In Tuesday's 1-1 draw against Manchester City, Francesco Totti scored and, in doing so, became the oldest goalscorer in Champions League history. It was also his first ever tally on English soil. This goal was worth the wait.
It's a typical Totti goal — staying onside and timing his run just right, he latches on to the pass and shows his signature soft touch to chip it up over Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart. He's a rare player for a few reasons, and whenever you get the chance this season, you should sit down and watch him. Here's three reasons why.
You should watch Totti because he still has it
Time claims most skills from players, usually starting with speed. But some skills age better than most. He's known mostly for his vision and creativity, seeing the right passes to make for a killer through ball to a streaking striker or holding his run until the last second to stay onside.
And then, there's his touch. On the ball, the man is better with his heel than many will ever be with their whole foot. The control he has over the ball and his passing, both in weight and accuracy, are second to few. Touch is a skill that usually gets better with age. The thing is, Totti had great touch when he started at Roma back in 1992.
With his vision to see the right pass and the skill to make it, Totti himself is a key to unlocking defenses.
The goals aren't as many as there have been in years past, but Totti has been playing through the twilight of his career for about eight years now and doing it better than anyone has at his age. You can bank on him still for close to 10 goals and as many assists.
You should watch Totti because he believes in his club
The power in Italy has always resided with the two Milan clubs, Inter and A.C., and Juventus. It would be a huge shock if all of those clubs had not made several substantial offers for Totti, as well as other European powers like Manchester United and Real Madrid, over the entire course of his career.
For all his work and for all his skill, Totti has one Serie A title ('00-'01) and two Coppa Italia trophies ('06-'07, '07-'08) with Roma. Three trophies are all he has. Had he quit on Roma for a bigger team, he could have easily tripled that trophy haul over the course of his career, at least. But he stayed. He was born in Rome, and Roma was his team. His goal was not to win as many trophies as he could; it was to win as many trophies as he could for Roma. That makes him a rarity in soccer. If you want to win, you leave your boyhood club and go to one or more of a few specific clubs.
You should watch Totti because his legend will only grow
Every game that Totti steps on to the pitch is a win for him against time. Every time he steps onto the pitch, wearing the colors of Roma with the captain's armband, he spits in the face of time, the undefeated. Each goal he scores, each assist he contributes means more and more because he's beating time. Don't you want to be here for that?
Totti is the guy who styled on one of the best goalies in the world by telling his team that he was going to chip Van Der Sar on a penalty kick, doing it and converting the penalty. Totti is the guy who was at the heart of Italy's 2006 World Cup win. Totti is the guy who chipped the Premier League title holder's goalie when he was 38 years old. He's adding to his legend, not embarrassing himself, in a young man's sport at 38.
He is a special, special player. One you should definitely watch.
"Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very
disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more
important than that."
Follow me on Twitter @cheedelt for more me.