Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Totti's Goal Celebration

The Rome Derby was held this week between Roma Football Club and Lazio Football Club. This is one of the most passionate derbies in world soccer and both sets of Italian fans are rabid about their teams. So when Roma captain, Francisco Totti, scored a goal, he dedicated the celebration to his pregnant wife in a very unique way. The Guardian had this to say about it:

"Having seen their side lose to two 10-manned Tuscan teams in the past two weeks, the Roma faithful wanted to make sure the players had their game heads on for this one; so the day before the game 3,000 of them travelled out to the training ground, blocking access roads, to unveil a giant banner reading: "Heaven or Hell, you decide", and, with an air of great significance, handing the team 11 rosary beads.

They certainly did the trick. Sunday's performance by Roma was their best since their season opener, and it was only poor finishing that kept them from a desperately-needed victory.

As it was, they opened the scoring with a goal that will live long in the memory thanks to Totti's unique celebration. In front of goal the Roma captain tamed a high ball and put it though the legs of his marker. A quick give-and-go with Rodrigo Taddei then put Totti one on one with Lazio's ultra-veteran keeper Marco Ballotta, off whom his shot bounced into the net. Ballotta, 41-and-a-half years old, was only on because first choice Angelo Peruzzi had pulled up injured during the warm-up.

Totti's reaction was something special. For weeks he and the city have been counting down to the birth of his first son, already dubbed Tottinho (little Totti). Delirious with joy at having a goal - nay, a derby goal - to dedicate to his pregnant wife in the stands, Totti quickly scooped up the ball under his jersey and ran to the sidelines where his cheering team-mates gathered round.

As Totti lay on his back, stomach bulging, a stadium held its breath. Would it be a tribute to Gazza at Euro 96, or better yet, John Hurt in Alien? No. With makeshift obstetrician Daniele De Rossi gamely groping between the captain's legs, Totti gave birth to the ball, which Sami Kuffour then lifted aloft - Simba style - for the adoring thousands to cheer.

"Miming delivery is certainly a departure from the Rock-a-bye Baby celebration we usually get," mused a less-than-enthusiastic Repubblica. "Still, at least he didn't re-enact the conception."

Totti eventually returned to the field after waving to his delighted spouse and many of the remaining 65,000 spectators, pumping his fists at the sky as he went. "It was an immense joy," he explained, adding squarely, "I've done my bit, now it's down to my wife." As soon as she's fetched your slippers, Francesco.

Boy, is she fine or what?


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