Francesco Totti: I rejected MLS, Asia to avoid tarnishing Roma legacy
Roma icon Francesco Totti has said he turned down a move to Major League Soccer because he didn't want to "ruin" his 25-year career.
Totti retired in 2017, having spent his entire professional career with boyhood club Roma, making his debut in 1992. He had offers to continue playing, but insisted he wanted to maintain his promise of never playing for another club.
"I would have ruined a 25-year career," Totti told La Repubblica when asked why he decided not to play in Asia or the United States. "I always said I would only wear one shirt and I'm a man of my word."
Totti, 41, said that Luciano Spalletti, his final manager at Roma, was the one who urged him to end his playing time at the end of the 2016-17 season.
"He's the one who pushed the most," Totti said of Spalletti.
While Totti ultimately spent his entire career with the Giallorossi, he explained that, had it not been for his mum's reluctance to let him leave home, he may well have joined AC Milan before signing for Roma.
"On that occasion, it was my family -- above all my mum -- who said no," Totti said when reminded that Milan were ready to buy him for 3 million lira (£138,000) when he was 12. "She's old school: apprehensive, possessive.
"My father worked until late. She [My mother] was always there for me and wanted me all to herself."
Meanwhile, Totti admitted the infamous kick on Mario Balotelli in 2010, for which he received a straight red card, was "horrible" but defended his reasons for lashing out. During the Coppa Italia final between Roma and Inter, Totti chased Balotelli and kicked him in the back of leg with three minutes remaining as the Nerazzurri were leading 1-0 and on course to complete the second leg of their Treble.
"It was the crescendo," Totti said. "For years, he had been provoking and insulting me as well as Romans in general. It was all the time and then it just exploded.
"It was a horrible foul. I just wanted to hurt him. But, afterwards, strangely, the Inter players did not attack me. As I left the pitch following the red card, Maicon actually gave me a hi-five.
"The sensation was that even among his own teammates, Balotelli created a few issues."