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'He was the zero in 4-2-3-0' – Spalletti on his relationship with Totti at Roma


Former Roma coach Luciano Spalletti has opened up on his relationship with Francesco Totti during his two spells with the club.

Spalletti led the capital club during a spell from 2005-09 then again for a little over 12 months after taking over in January 2016.

Totti, meanwhile, was an ever present with Roma throughout his 25-year career at the top level, making him an icon of the club, with 250 league goals to his credit and 785 appearances in all competitions.

The pair combined to great effect in Spalletti’s first spell in charge as the club twice won the Coppa Italia, though Totti accused the coach of pushing him towards retirement during his second stint at the Stadio Olimpico.

Spalletti, meanwhile, says that he was simply thinking about the success of the team, which he had transformed by making Totti a ‘False 9’ during his thrilling first years in Rome.

“My first Roma team was touched by the light of the Roman sunshine, made up of players who could pass the ball without ever creating difficulty for their team-mates,” he told Sky Sport Italia.

“It takes a lot of quality to do that and they had it, as those passing moves made the difference and formed a team that played beautiful football.

Francesco Totti - Roma

Francesco Totti - Roma

“What I do is talk to the players, find out what their strengths are and make them the protagonists. I tried to find the hidden capabilities of these players.

“At the time, I had the zero in front, who was Totti, who’d create spaces and make sure he always got away from the opposition defenders. He was a master in occupying the space.”

He denied that their relationship subsequently fell apart.

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“I think our rapport remained the same, but the two phases required a different attitude,” the out-of-work coach explained.

“The results of the team are the most important thing for a coach and I have to work on that. I have always been the same, it’s just that different things happened requiring me to behave differently, but always for the good of the team.

“I hope that Totti has a great career as an agent and I am sure we’ll cross paths in future during our work.”

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