One Saturday Afternoon visited Roman street artist, underground poet and football lover Francesco Graziani (what’s in a fake name?) and talked to him about living legend Francesco Totti – often referred to as Il Bimbo d’Oro (The Golden Boy), Il Re di Roma (The King of Rome), Er Pupone (The Big Baby) or Il Capitano (The Captain).
What does Totti mean for football in Italy?
“Do you have a minute? Let’s say you have the ‘butcher’ Materazzi, who won the World Cup in 2006, and you have Tardelli who won the World Cup in 1982; after AC Milan reigned over Europe in the 90s Francesco Totti finally demolished catenaccio and gave us back football.”
Totti in awe of the World Cup
What does Totti mean for football in Rome?
Laughs: “Do you have a lifetime? Italy has football legends, of course. Like Gigi Riva, Paolo Rossi and Paolo Maldini, but none of them are true Romans. And then there is the rivalry with ‘fascist’ Lazio Roma. Our Francesco is true grit!’
Update: in the derby against Lazio at the beginning of 2015 Totti scored twice en did this:
How would you describe Totti as an icon (i.e. brand)?
“There is no need to describe him. He ís an icon, he personalizes the meaning of the word icon. Therefore, any true, strong, cool, sympathetic and stylish brand could use him as a medium.’
How would you describe Totti as an artist?
“If you score more than 200 goals at the highest level, being a ‘false’ striker , playing at the number 10 position… Well, you do the math. There’s no way you can do that and not have something extra – like talent, gut feeling, a killer mentality and creativity! How else would you beat all those defenders?’
What does he mean to you?
“He’s my friend, my talisman. He’s funny, and loyal. And his style is godsend beautiful, almost nonchalant, yet venomous and lethal. He’s a modern gladiator or emperor – even God, Jupiter.
“More so, as football has become culture, and the game itself poetry, I would like to end with this Catholic style confession: I’m not sure what I’ll do when he stops playing. He’s been a part of my life for twenty years. I might just go down to the Tiber and stare at the water endlessly. I might camp out at the Vatican. As for Francesco Totti (38), he has actually been a pope for a lot of football people. Yes, that’s it. He is my spiritual leader.”
Francesco meets Francesco