Francesco Totti was given a Real Madrid reception normally reserved only for one of their own, as he entered the Bernabeu pitch for Roma in the Champions League.
Now 39, Totti came off the bench to a rousing reception from all corners of the historic stadium, with his team, Roma, heading out of the competition and the significance of it quite possibly being the Number 10’s last ever Champions League game not being lost on those gathered to watch.
It’s been well documented that one-club man Totti almost joined Real Madrid midway through his glorious career, choosing instead to stay with his hometown team on advice of his mother; and the visibly moved fantasista shared his feelings to Mediaset Premium after the match:
The Santiago Bernabeu is an amazing stadium. Real Madrid are my only regret.
It was very emotional to get such a warm welcome, these will be wonderful memories for me.
Controversy has reigned in Rome ever since the first Champions League meeting between the two sides this season, when head coach Luciano Spalletti chose to leave Totti on the bench for almost the entirety of the match.
This led to accusations of a lack of respect being shown to Roma’s greatest ever player, who was then deemed to have criticised the coach and was subsequently dropped from the squad completely.
All parties are now looking for a solution and hoping to move forward in a positive way, which Totti alluded to:
I have missed some things in recent weeks, but I want to enjoy this great moment for now.
We will see what happens from here on.
Meanwhile Real Madrid skipper Sergio Ramos paid his personal tribute to Totti by swapping shirts at the end of the game and stating:
Totti deserves that applause. He’s been a dedicated professional for so many years and they showed him their affection and admiration because he’s a role model for all of us.
It made me proud [to swap shirts] because I’ve admired him for years because I was always a fan of his long hair and he’s a top player. He also gave me his shirt, which I’m going to put in my museum.