Former Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho could end up being a factor if former club captain Francesco Totti makes his reported return to AS Roma after retiring in 2017
Roma legend Francesco Totti could end up back at the club amid a difficult period for the Italian club and manager Jose Mourinho may have a part to play in the former club captain’s return.
Mourinho is in the midst of a difficult spell with the Italian club, with European qualification hanging in the balance and former Italy and Roma striker Antonio Cassano among those to criticise his work at the Stadio Olimpico.
Totti played with Cassano for part of his long career in Rome, making his debut as a teenager and remaining with the club until he hung up his boots in 2017 at the age of 40.
The former Italy international resigned from his directorial role with the club in 2019 after a falling-out with the previous owners, but reports in Italy suggest he could be on the verge of a comeback.
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While Totti has continued to attend games, he left his executive position in 2019 with a strong statement in which he claimed to have been stabbed in the back.
“This is far worse than retiring as a player. Leaving Roma is like dying. I feel like it’d be better if I died,” he said at the time.
“This is a club to be loved and supported. There shouldn’t be pro-Totti, pro-[then-owner James] Pallotta or pro-[then-consultant Franco] Baldini factions. Just Roma fans.
“Did someone stab me in the back at Trigoria? Yes.
“I will never name names, but there are people in there who don’t want me there. These people are hurting Roma, not doing what is best for the club.”
According to La Gazzetta Dello Sport, though, the change in ownership at Roma – with the Friedkin Group now in charge – has opened the door to Totti returning, as has the ex-player’s rapport with Mourinho.
“There is strong mutual respect’” between Totti and Mourinho, the Italian paper reports, as translated by Football Italia.
Gazzetta reports that Totti’s return to the Olimpico in December 2021 was the first time in two years in which he had been present for a game.
“Francesco now has an excellent relationship with the current management. With the Friedkin and Tiago Pinto, but also with Mourinho,” the paper reports.
Totti’s son Cristian is also on Roma’s books, playing for their under-17 side, while Totti senior made more than 700 appearances for the Giallorossi and ended his career as a one-club man.
Under Mourinho, Roma have faded badly after a fast start and are playing catch-up in the race for European qualification.
A weekend draw with Verona left them down in eighth, six points adrift of fourth-place Juventus and two behind neighbours Lazio with 12 games of the season remaining.