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Francesco Totti

Spalletti set to gatecrash Totti party

Milan (AFP) – Roma coach Luciano Spalletti is all set to ruin the birthday celebrations of club icon Francesco Totti, by showing up at his party.

Totti, in his 25th and likely last season with the club he made his debut for in 1993, will celebrate his 40th birthday on Tuesday.

The Roma veteran has been used sparingly by Spalletti over the last two seasons, but continues to make an impact for the Giallorossi, a number of assists recently adding to his long list of achievements.

A cheeky chip over the Crotone defence last week helped striker Edin Dzeko to his first brace of the season in what was Totti’s first full game since May 2015.

And although Spalletti would not confirm if Totti will start in Sunday’s league visit to Torino, he has assured him of his own presence when he celebrates this week.

“Yes, he’s invited me and I think I’ll show my face because it’s an important occasion,” Spalletti told media Saturday when asked if he would be attending the party.

“I don’t want to ruin the rest of his party though – and the rest of the squad won’t be happy when I show up!

“I can’t buy him a time machine but that shows what I think of him.”

Now in his second spell at Roma after replacing Frenchman Rudi Garcia last year, Spalletti walked the razor’s edge midway through last season amid a highly-publicised spat with the ever-popular Totti.

The club veteran complained in a scathing television interview of warming the bench far too often, and said he warranted “more respect”.

Spalletti, who led Roma to two Italian Cups and one Italian SuperCup in his previous spell in charge (2005-2009), responded by sidelining Totti until the spat cooled down.

After protracted discussions with the club last season, president James Pallotta finally gave in to Totti’s demands for a final year’s contract.

Totti, however, threw the cat among the pigeons when he hinted last week he could be tempted to play on for another year — a prospect that could prolong Spalletti’s selection dilemma regarding the club veteran. 

Spalletti revealed little about what role Totti could play the rest of the season, but was quick to underline that Totti remains just another squad player.

“For me things haven’t changed” in comparison to last season, added Spalletti.

“He’s one of the Roma players, he has quality, and right now he’s doing perfectly,” added the 57-year-old.

“He turns up to training, works hard and is part of the squad. He frequently refers to ‘the unit’ and ‘the team’s play’. That’s what I wanted.”

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