Francesco Totti admits “Real Madrid tried everything to get me to join them”, but his love for Roma won out.
The Spanish giants pushed hard to sign the Giallorossi legend during their Galactico era, but he retired having spent his entire career with his boyhood club.
Tomorow night the Lupi take on Los Merengues at the Bernabeu, and Er Pupone was asked just how close he came to moving to Madrid.
“There was a time in my career, from about 2004 or 2005 onwards, when Real Madrid tried everything to get me to join them,” Totti told Roma’s official website.
“They sent me a No.10 shirt with ‘Totti’ on it to try and help me make up my mind. I wouldn’t say their President [Florentino Perez] called me all the time but he and the people he worked with tried to get in contact with me.
“I was caught in two minds at the time – I was sitting on the fence. At the end of the day, love won it.
“My love for this club, this city, these fans. My love for everyone who has helped me in the last 25 years to be the captain of this team and a one-club man.
“I’ve met Florentino Perez several times since. The last time was at the draw in Monaco the other week. He’s always very friendly but he says the same thing to me every time: that I’m the only player he was never able to persuade to join Real Madrid.
“He’s never been able to come to terms with that. The last time we played Real Madrid he asked me to sign a jersey for him saying ‘The only player to say no to Real Madrid’!”
Despite never moving there, Totti does have some good memories of the Bernabeu.
“The Bernabeu can both intimidate and inspire. You don’t play in games like that very often so when you do you want to give a good account of yourself.
“I have lots of wonderful memories of the Bernabeu and lots of bad ones too, but over my 25-year career I have more good memories than bad. “In 2002 I scored in Madrid and we won 1-0 – that was one of the best moments of my career.
“It was the first time in years that an Italian club had managed to win in Madrid and I got the goal so I was doubly delighted, although at the time I was thinking more about the team than myself.
“The standing ovation in 2016? I came on a few minutes from the end and the entire stadium rose to their feet to applaud me. That capped off my entire career. It was a day I’ll never forget.
“They’ve seen a few decent players on that pitch over the years and they have amazing players now. Seeing everyone stand up to applaud me was something I never expected.
“I’m infinitely grateful to them because every time I played there they always treated me magnificently.”
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