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Rome’s “Eighth King” Francesco Totti plays his last match today

by Lorenzo Zanini

For those who love football -- and not only Italian football -- the game that will be played on Sunday May 28th at the Stadio Olimpico by AS Roma and Genoa will not be only a championship match.

It will be something more: 40-year-old Francesco Totti, the so called “Eighth King of Rome,” will play his last match wearing the jersey the Rome club, 25 years after the famous midfielder played his first game there. He has not been short of opportunities to change team: AC Milan and Real Madrid both wanted him, for example.

He said: “No, thanks. I prefer play with AS Roma.”

Second-placed Roma had made it clear they would not offer Totti, a native Roman, another contract but he has refused to play until Thursday, when he finally announced it would be his last game for them on Sunday.

“From Monday, I'm ready to go again, I'm ready for a new challenge,” he wrote on his Facebook profile, adding that football was a passion he needed to fuel.

Totti, who has been AS Roma captain since 1998, won two Serie A titles as well as the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa on two occasions each during his 25 years with Roma. In the Eternal City he is considered as a legend, something halfway between a man and a god. Totti has faced Lazio in 43 derbies (he was the most prolific player).

Appearing for his country at all levels from under-15, Italian champion scored nine goals in 58 senior appearances for Italy before his retirement from international football in 2006, after winning the World Cup in Germany.

Diego Maradona has paid homage to another iconic World Cup winner, branding Francesco the best player he has ever seen.

“Francesco Totti, king of Rome! Totti is and will be the best player I ever saw!
#Respect,” wrote Maradonna, who is considered to be one of the greatest players of all the time.

The AS Roma coach, Luciano Spalletti, once said it would be “easier to move the Colosseum out of Rome” than move Totti out of Roma. He was wrong. Rome and Totti: a legacy that can never be erased.