Soccer: Evergreen Totti gets two more years at Roma
One-club-man happy to keep wearing 'only shirt I love'20 September, 19:24
(By Paul Virgo) (ANSA) - Rome, September 20 - Captain Francesco Totti announced Friday that he has extended his contract with AS Roma by two years, taking it up until 2016.
"I'm extremely happy to play two more years with the only shirt I love," said Totti, who turns 37 next week and has only ever played senior football for the team he supported as a child.
"It's two more years of responsibility. We'll do great things together.
"It's a dream, my never-ending dream, the dream of all Roman and all Roma-supporting children - to play for Roma, to be the captain, to wear this shirt, to keep doing so.
The former Italy forward's contract had been set to expire at the end of the season.
He made his senior debut for Roma aged 16 over 20 years ago and helped them win the league title in 2001 and the Italian Cup in 2007 and 2008, having spurned chances to join other clubs, including Real Madrid.
The contract announcement comes just two days before Sunday's supercharged derby match against Lazio, when Roma will be bidding to avenge the painful 1-0 defeat they suffered to their city rivals in last season's Italian Cup final. Totti, a member of the Azzurri's 2006 World Cup-winning team, thanked the club's American owners for giving him the chance to keep playing for the club he loves, contrasting it with the way Juventus dealt with Alessandro Del Piero. Del Piero, another outstanding forward who is in the latter stages of his career, moved to Sydney FC last year after the Turin club decided not to renew his contract following 19 seasons with them. 'Totti and Roma for ever,'' said Chairman James Pallotta, a member of the Boston consortium that made Roma Serie A's first foreign-controlled club in 2011.
The renewal is not just an act of gratitude from Roma to arguably their all-time best player.
Despite his age, Totti continues to consistently produce excellent performances, as seen on Monday, when he netted a fine goal to consolidate his position as Serie A's second-top scorer of all time and help Roma to a 3-1 win at Parma.
The victory enabled Roma to maintain their perfect record, with three wins from their first three Serie A games, and make sure they go into Sunday's derby against Lazio as joint leaders along with Napoli.
Totti's goal against Parma was his 228th in Serie A.
Only Silvio Piola, who notched 274 goals for Pro Vercelli, Lazio, Juventus and Novara between 1929 and 1954, has scored more in the Italian top flight.
"To be honest, I don't think about reaching Piola," Totti told a news conference Friday. "My aim is to play well and help Roma win.
"If I manage to catch up with Piola, which is almost impossible, great, but it's not my aim". Earlier this year Prandelli said he would be forced to call up Totti if he keeps playing so well, even though he will be close to 38 by the time of the next World Cup.
But for the moment, Totti said he is not thinking about the Azzurri. "I'm focused on Roma. My national team is this shirt," said Totti, who took a break from international football after the 2006 World Cup, before quitting the national team completely without returning.
"But if I'm in great shape in May and something happens, we'll see. I'm available".