Totti swops playing brief for director's suit

ROME • A whole new challenge awaits former Roma legend Francesco Totti as the Italian football club return to the Champions League group stage today against Atletico Madrid.

The 40-year-old former player will swop his Roma shirt for a suit as he assumes the mantle of a director of the Serie A club, having retired as a player in May.

"The first part (of my life) - being a footballer - is over and now another, equally important one as a director, begins, and I hope that I will be able to do what I did on the field," Totti said.

"Football is my passion; it's everything. It's friendship, scoring goals, knowing new people. It's something which touched every important part of me."

Roma coach Eusebio di Francesco welcomed the news that Totti would also be starting to work towards a coaching diploma in September.

"He's already been in the changing rooms to move the pieces on the tactics board about," said di Francesco. "It's good he's doing the course, because it will help him figure out what he really wants to do."

This diploma - a compulsory first step in the path to a coaching career - would allow Totti to coach amateur and youth teams.

"On the one hand I would like to be a coach but for the moment I'm not thinking too much about it," said the 2006 World Cup winner. "With my character, I don't know if I would know how to manage a group."

He will soon find out as he will be on the sidelines at the Stadio Olimpico for the clash against last year's semi-finalists Atletico in their Group C opener.

Roma sold several players during the summer and their new signings have not gelled yet. They beat Atalanta in their opening Serie A match this season but lost 1-3 to Inter Milan two weeks ago.

Atletico have only five points after three LaLiga matches, drawing 0-0 with Valencia on Saturday. However, Diego Simeone's side have a good record in the Champions League and will be tough for Roma to break down.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2017, with the headline 'Totti swops playing brief for director's suit'. Print Edition | Subscribe