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Tuesday, September 27, 2016, 11:13

Totti still the King of Rome on his 40th birthday

By Associated Press
Totti still the King of Rome on his 40th birthday
In this photo from files taken on July 9, 2006, Italy's Francesco Totti looks at the World Cup trophy after the final of the soccer World Cup between Italy and France in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

MILAN — At 40, Francesco Totti may not be Roma's 'Golden Boy' anymore, but he is still very much 'the King of Rome.'

Totti celebrates his 40th birthday on Tuesday but the Champions League's oldest scorer is showing no signs of slowing down and indeed seems to have found a new lease of life.

There was speculation last season that maybe the time had come for Il Capitano to hang up his boots and move into the boardroom but, with six goals in his past 11 league matches and several assists, Totti is proving his doubters wrong.

Totti marked the final match of his 30s on Sunday by becoming only the second player to score 250 Serie A goals, reaching that mark with a penalty kick in Roma's 3-1 loss at Torino.

The man who upset Totti's pre-birthday celebrations, Torino coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, helped persuade then Roma coach Vujadin Boskov to hand a 16-year-old Totti his debut.

Mihajlovic had been amazed by the precocious youngster, who was giving him and his fellow first-team defenders trouble in training as well as racking up goals for the youth team.

On March 28, 1993, with Roma winning 2-0 at Brescia, Mihajlovic ran up to Boskov and said "come on, bring the kid on..." The rest is history.

Mihajlovic joked at the weekend that Totti owes him a dinner for that, and "it can't be at a pizzeria, it has to be oysters and champagne" before adding "he is the best player in Italy since I've been here."

And for nearly a quarter of a century Totti has been living up to those expectations. With his stunning goals and defense-splitting passes, Totti is, for many Roma fans, the epitomy of the Roman gladiator that he has tattooed on his right shoulder.

If Rome is the Eternal City, Totti is Roma's eternal leader and has been since he was first made captain in 1998, at the age of just 22.

Zdenek Zeman, who promoted Totti to the captaincy, was such an ardent admirer that he once said: "Who are the best five Italian players? Totti, Totti, Totti, Totti, Totti."

Several teammates and coaches have compared Totti with a famous Roman monument, with Claudio Ranieri saying the star player is "as important as the Colosseum is to Rome."

He has been just as immovable.

Totti still the King of Rome on his 40th birthday
Roma's Francesco Totti walks on the pitch during a Serie A soccer match between Roma and Torino at the Turin Olympic stadium, Italy, Sept 25, 2016. (Alessandro Di Marco/ANSA via AP)

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