Francesco Totti was greeted with a round of applause from the Bernabeu faithful when he was introduced as a replacement for Stephan El Shaarawy during Roma’s Round of 16 Champions League clash with Real Madrid Tuesday. Afterwards, the veteran striker who’s played his entire career at Roma admitted he was overwhelmed.
It’s emotional because these will be wonderful memories,” said Totti, speaking to Mediaset. “This show of thanks in an extraordinary stadium means I have given something to football.”
After the match, Madrid defender Sergio Ramos swapped shirts with the 39-year-old whose contract is up for renewal this summer. Ramos admitted to being honored, having grown up as an admirer of Totti.
This was not the first time the Bernabeu faithful have applauded an esteemed Italian footballer in their midst. Andrea Pirlo and Alessandro Del Piero were both greeted with similar ovations at Real Madrid’s home ground.
Totti’s appearance, which is likely to be his last at the Bernabeu, and possibly in the Champions League, was among the few highlights for Roma on the night. Giallorossi manager Luciano Spalletti said there were “no positives” to take away from the two-legged tie that saw Roma eliminated 4-0 on aggregate.
The Champions League elimination leaves Roma to focus on the remaining 10 games of the Serie A season. Roma is currently in third place, five points behind Napoli in second and a full eight points off leaders Juventus.
Having sacked manager Rudi Garcia earlier this year, Roma has seen their fortune improve, domestically at least, under Spalletti. They’ve been on a seven game winning streak in the league and have scored 22 goals along the way.
With a narrow three-point lead over fourth-placed Fiorentina, Roma still have work to do in securing qualification for next season’s Champions League. A late run on the title is not entirely out of the question either, however, with an eight-point gap separating the two, it would take nothing short of an outright collapse from Juventus if Roma were to secure their first Scudetto since 2001. Also in the frame is Napoli, who remain the most likely contenders to wrest the title away from Juve.
Roma resumes their Serie A campaign this weekend as they travel to the Stadio Friuli to face Udinese.