Roma great Totti leaves club slamming the door

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Francesco Totti plays a charity tennis match during the Italian Open in Rome on May 10, 2016. [Photo: Xinhua]

Italy's soccer legend Francesco Totti officially left AS Roma club, stepping down from the role of executive he has served in the last two years, the former player announced on Monday.

His decision put an end to over 30 years of professional career in the Italian soccer.

"I resign from my role as executive of AS Roma," Totti told a much-expected press conference held at the Italian National Olympic Committee headquarters here, and live broadcast by state-run RAI TV.

"I had hoped this day would never come, instead it has arrived," he added, claiming his decision had much to do with the way the club was run in the latest years.

The former player said the club's management, and especially current American president James Pallotta, excluded him from any relevant decision.

"It was not my fault, and I say this because I have never had the change of being involved in a technical project," Totti pointed out.

"This is a goodbye and not a farewell, because it is impossible to keep Totti out of Rome, at least if we look at things from the outside."

"I am going to take other leads now, but I will always be ready in case another property will be ready to strongly rely on me," he stressed.

Francesco Totti retired in May 2017, aged 39. The veteran midfielder and second striker is considered the best player the AS Roma has ever had, and is still much revered by an overwhelming majority of its fans.

A born-and-bred Roman, Totti had in fact a very special bond with the major football team of the Italian capital.

Born in San Giovanni neighborhood, Totti joined the youth team of AS Roma in 1989, at the age of 13, and never left the club. In May 1993, he debuted in the major League at 16, playing with the so-called Giallorossi --Italian for Yellow-Reds from the club's home colors -- through 25 seasons, 786 matches, and 307 goals.

Totti ranked second in terms of caps (615) in the Serie A League, after AC Milan's Paolo Maldini and before Juventus' Gigi Buffon.

He also marked the third highest figure in the history of Italy's soccer in terms of number of matches played with the same team (786), again following Paolo Maldini (902 matches) and Inter-Milan's Javier Zanetti (858).

In his long carrier with the club, he helped AS Roma win one Italian Serie A League title, two domestic Coppa Italia titles, and two Supercoppa Italiana titles.

After leading his team to its third and last Serie A title in 2001 (the previous one dating 18 years back) Totti was acclaimed by an estimated one million fans at the Circus Maximus and across the streets of Rome during a night of emotional celebrations.

He also served in Italy's national team from 1998 to 2006. He won the FIFA World Cup with the Azzurri team Germany 2006.

During his press conference on Monday, Totti explained the AS Roma board did not involve him in any crucial decision concerning the team's future.

"Considering the current conditions, I deemed it right and due to take such decision (to resign)," he said.

"They were aware I wanted to give much to the team, yet they never wanted me, and kept me out of everything."

Totti added he virtually had "no relationship" with AS Roma current consultant (and former technical director) Franco Baldini, and he "never will."

"One of us had to leave, and I stood aside. Too many people are having a say in too many things, and this is never useful."

In the 2018-2019 season, won by Juventus, the AS Roma finished sixth and did not manage to achieve a place in the next Champions League. 

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