MILAN: Italian football icon Francesco Totti has demanded more “respect” from Roma and hit out at coach Luciano Spalletti for talking behind his back in the media.
Injury woes this season have kept 39-year-old Totti, who is in his 23rd year with the Serie A club, on the bench — a situation that has left him “feeling bad”.
Indeed, the one-club man has become known more for his touchline antics and a growing number of advertising spots off the pitch as he edges closer to hanging up his boots.
A day after Spalletti said Totti may start alongside striker Edin Dzeko when the Giallorossi host Palermo on Sunday, Totti let fly in a candid interview with RAI television.
“I’m still a footballer and I want to play. My injury is over, I’m doing fine and if I’m not playing it’s the coach’s decision,” Totti said on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
“I’m not here to demand to play, I’ve never done that and I’m not going to start now…. my contract ends in June and then I’ll take stock of the situation, because I can’t stay like this.
“I feel bad, and so do the people who are close to me.”
Spalletti is in his second spell at the club following the sacking last month of French coach Rudi Garcia, who led Roma to two consecutive runner-up places behind Juventus — last year and 2014.
But Totti suggested relations between the pair are far from ideal, due partly to Spalletti allegedly speaking about him in the media instead of directly.
“I say hello to him and goodbye,” added Totti. “I respect him as a person and as a coach, but I would have preferred he told me to my face the things that I’ve read in the newspapers.
“After everything I’ve given to the club all these years I would hoped to be treated with more respect.”
Totti’s wife Ilaria Blasi said recently the Roma icon was already winding down his career.
“Retirement? We’re there,” Blasi said in an interview with Oggi magazine when asked when Totti would finally hang up his boots.
“Next year he will be 40 years old. Francesco has had a great career, to the extent that now he’s thinking what else he wants to do. But he will stay within the sport.”
Totti scored his 300th goal for Roma in a 2-2 draw with Sassuolo in late September to take his Serie A goals tally to 244, 30 short of Silvio Piola’s all-time record of 274.