Irrepressible Francesco Totti scores 300th Roma goal

Francesco Totti passed yet another landmark when he scored his 300th competitive goal for AS Roma on Sunday, a few days short of his 39th birthday and almost exactly 21 years after hitting the target for the first time.

Playing his 24th season at his only professional club, the irrepressible Totti was gifted his first goal of the season when Sassuolo goalkeeper Andrea Consigli gave away possession from a free kick in Sunday’s 2-2 draw.

“Three hundred is an incredible number,” said Roma coach Rudi Garcia. “We were waiting for it although Francesco would have preferred to celebrate a win.”

Totti, who opened his account against Foggia in September 1994, has been used increasingly sparingly by Garcia in the last year.

After he was left on the bench against Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday, Sunday’s match was only his second appearance of the season. When he does play, there is still an air of expectation every time he receives the ball.

He can still produce a defence-splitting pass and goals which range from delicate chips to thunderous volleys, sometimes from impossible angles.

Totti, who made his debut under Vujadin Boskov as a 16-year-old away to Brescia in March 1993, has scored 244 goals in Serie A, with 17 in the Coppa Italia, 38 in European competition and one in the Italian Supercup.

His Serie A total makes him the second highest scorer in the championship’s history and he is a tantalising 31 goals short of Silvio Piola’s record of 275.

Even though he has won a modest one scudetto and two Coppa Italia titles, that does not matter to Roma fans who appreciate his self-effacing humour and undying loyalty.

Garcia said last week that his dream was to help Totti add another title before he retires, whenever that may be.

“I want to win at least one title with my captain, Francesco Totti,” he said. “I don’t know if Totti or the Pope are more important in Rome, but I can certainly say that for Francesco the Roma shirt is like a second skin.

“He’s an extraordinary player, on and off the field, and we are just pacing him in training but he never asks for any special favours.”