Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fransesco Totti

Francesco Totti, Cavaliere Ufficiale OMRI, (born 27 September 1976 in Rome) is an Italian World Cup-winning footballer who is the current captain of Serie A club Roma. His position is that of a second striker or an attacking midfielder, though he is best known for playing as a second striker. Totti has spent his entire career at Roma, is the number-one goalscorer and the most capped player in the club's history. He is widely regarded as one of the finest players in his generation and also Roma's greatest player ever. Often referred to as Il Bimbo d'Oro (The Golden Boy) and Er Pupone (The Baby) by the Italian sports media, Totti has won many individual awards, including a record five Italian Footballer of the Year awards and two Serie A Footballer of the Year awards. He was named by Pelé as one of the top 125 greatest living footballers in March 2004. He is currently the top active Serie A goalscorer and sixth all-time in league history with 195 goals.

Totti first came into international prominence while playing in UEFA youth tournaments and won the UEFA under-21 championships in 1996. After starring with the Azzurrini in Italy's Under-19 and Under-21 sides, he earned his first cap for Italy during a Euro 2000 qualifying victory against Switzerland on 10 October 1998.Italy went to Euro 2000 with Totti in excellent form. He scored 2 goals during the tournament. The first goal came against co-host nation Belgium in the first round, the second against Romania in the quarter-finals. Though Italy lost to France in the final, Totti was named the man of the match and was selected for the 22-man Team of the Tournament.Disappointment followed at the 2002 World Cup, with Totti failing to make a significant impact and then being sent off during Italy's second-round loss to South Korea after being handed a controversial second yellow card by Byron Moreno for an alleged dive in the penalty area.Totti acquired a measure of infamy at Euro 2004 after he spat at Danish midfielder Christian Poulsen in a goalless draw on 14 June 2004. He was subsequently banned until the semifinals, but never made it back to action and finished the competition scoreless due to Italy's elimination in the first round.Totti recovered in time to join the national team for their victorious 2006 World Cup campaign despite not having had much match practice during his three months on the sidelines recovering from injury. Totti had, in fact, played with metal plates in his ankle that had yet to be removed following surgery. He nonetheless was a fixture in Marcello Lippi's side, starting in all of Italy's seven games. During the tournament he played along with Andrea Pirlo behind lone striker Luca Toni, forming a dangerous attacking-midfield pairing. Totti finished the tournament with the most goal and assists of any player, as well as scoring a single goal via a penalty in Italy's 1-0 round-of-16 win over Australia on 26 June. In recognition of a successful tournament, Totti was selected for the 23-man All-Star Team.

By the 2000–01 campaign, Roma, then helmed by Fabio Capello, was building a competitive team around Totti, who had started to play as trequartista to take advantage of his passing skills. He scored thirteen goals in the campaign. On 17 June 2001, he won Scudetto, and scored one goal in a 3–0 Supercoppa Italiana victory against Fiorentina. Totti was named the Italian Footballer of the Year for 2000 and 2001. He received his first Ballon d'Or nomination in 2000, finishing fourteenth in the voting and fifth the following year. He had also become a widely recognized idol of the supporters, who were able to identify with Totti's background as a lifelong Roma supporter and Rome native and also his prowess on the pitch. In the following seasons, Totti played as second striker as part of a 3–5–2 formation and scored a career-high twenty goals in the 2003–04 season as Roma finished runners-up to Milan in the Scudetto race. He also won his second consecutive Italian Footballer of the Year award. Despite a disappointing 2004–05 season that saw Capello leave for Juventus and Roma slip to eighth place while making four coaching changes during the course of the season, Totti maintained his consistent offensive output by scoring fifteen goals, among them his 100th Serie A goal against Internazionale on October 3, 2004. Two months later, on December 19, he became Roma's all-time leading scorer after netting his 107th career goal against Parma, breaking the record previously held by Roberto Pruzzo.

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