Bitter Totti says leaving Roma 'worse than dying'

Credit: Reuters - Sports
Published on June 17, 2019 - Duration: 01:09s
AS Roma great Totti leaves club slamming the door
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Bitter Totti says leaving Roma 'worse than dying'

SHOWS: ROME, ITALY (JUNE 17, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1.

(SOUNDBITE) (Italian) FORMER AS ROMA CAPTAIN, FRANCESCO TOTTI, SAYING: "Certainly another owner (referring to AS Roma President James Pallotta) is needed, then it depends if this owner wants to call me, if he believes in my potential and if he believes that I can do something good for Rome.

I have certainly never hurt AS Roma and I will never hurt AS Roma because for me AS Roma comes first, even in this moment.

And today for me is the worst moment, other than when I stopped playing...splitting from Rome for me...today I could even die, it would be better...but unfortunately, as I said before, for the good of all it is better that I leave also because so many managers in Rome have always said that I am too cumbersome for the club." STORY: AS Roma's former captain and record goalscorer Francesco Totti left his job in the management team on Monday (June 17), bitterly complaining that the club's U.S. owner had never given him a proper role.

During a dramatic news conference at the Italian Olympic Committee, the 42-year-old Roma great said during his two years in a technical role he was repeatedly excluded from strategic decisions and felt obliged to walk out of his only club.

"It was not my fault... Today is like dying.

It would have been better to die", Totti told reporters.

He said he would be ready to return to the club if President James Pallotta left.

Widely recognised as one of the greatest ever Italian footballers, Totti won the 2006 World Cup with Italy and spent all his club career in the yellow and red Roma strip, scoring a club record 307 goals in 786 games.

He retired as a player in 2017 and was given a job on the Roma technical staff but without a clearly defined role.

The born-and-bred Roman, Totti joined the club's youth set-up in 1989, becoming captain of the first team in 1998 and leading them to their last Serie A title in 2001, one of only three they have ever won.

The relationship between "Il Capitano" and the U.S. management led by Pallotta has often been tense, especially in the run-up to his final match as a player in an Olympic stadium full of crying fans.

Pallotta's group of American investors acquired AS Roma in 2011, after almost 20 years during which the club was headed by the Sensi family of local businessmen who were close to Totti.

In May, Roma did not renew the contract of club captain Daniele De Rossi, Totti's life-long friend, fuelling the fans' bitterness towards Pallotta, who they accused of getting rid of club legends.

Totti made his debut as a 16-year-old in a 2-0 win against Brescia in 1993 and played under 16 different coaches during his 25 seasons at the club in the city where he was born.

In all he made 786 appearances, scoring 307 goals including 250 in Serie A - the second-highest total by a single player after Silvio Piola between 1929 and 1954.

A World Cup winner with Italy in 2006, his trophy haul with Roma was surprisingly modest - a single Serie A title in 2001 and two winners' medals from the largely unloved Coppa Italia.

(Production: Cristiano Corvino, Fabiano Franchitti)

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