Italy’s Totti calls it quits
ROME, July 20: Italy's Francesco Totti announced his retirement from
international football on Friday. The 30-year-old Roma striker, who had not
represented the Azzurri since they won the World Cup last July after taking a
sabbatical from international duty, finally called it quits due to the physical
demands of playing so many matches.
“My main problem is physical,” he told a news conference at Roma's Trigoria
“I came to the conclusion that I cannot play in so many matches in a year.
I had to give up something and unfortunately it's the national team because I
can't give up Roma. They are my priority.” Last September Totti, the Roma
captain who was top scorer in Serie A last season with 26 goals, announced he
was ready to return to the international set-up but only for important matches.
But his offer to play part-time for his country did not go down well with Italy
coach Roberto Donadoni -- who took charge of the national team after the World
Cup -- and several of his fellow internationals Totti said it was better to quit
altogether rather than create animosity within the national team.
“I didn't want to create problems with the group and the staff,” he added.
“I'm sorry, but my health is the most important thing.” Totti, who made his
Italy debut in October 1998, broke his left ankle in February 2006 but managed
to recover in time for the World Cup.
The talismanic Roman struggled for fitness in the early matches and was heavily
criticised by the Italian media for his lacklustre performances.
He was sensationally dropped for the second round match against Australia, but
came off the bench to score the winning penalty in stoppage time.
Totti showed nerves of steel to slam home the spot-kick and wasted no time in
hitting back at his detractors.
“Now let the critics talk about me,” he said. “Up till now they have massacred
me. I am sure they won't be happy. I never answered them back, I was waiting to
give my response on the pitch.” As his fitness improved, so did his
performances, and he showed touches of genius in the 2-0 extra-time defeat of
host nation Germany in the semi-finals.
Totti is regarded as one of Italy's finest players, but he has often flattered
to deceive when playing for his country with just nine goals in his 58
Despite turning it on week in, week out in Serie A, there was a sense of
unfulfilled potential about him at international level.
Perhaps his finest hour was the 2000 European championship in which his
influence helped Italy reach the final, where they lost to France on a golden
But at the World Cup in 2002, he failed to score in six matches and was sent off
for diving in Italy's shock second-round exit at the hands of co-hosts South
He was tipped to inspire the Azzurri to success at the 2004 European
championships, but instead left Portugal in disgrace after getting himself sent
off for spitting in the face of Denmark's Christian Poulsen in the first game of
Totti was given a three-match ban and Italy were knocked out in the group