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Football is a romantic game and, to many, the raw emotion a football match can invoke surpasses that of any other sport. There is nothing better than seeing great players battling it out on the field. Fans take true delight in any match when legends, known all over the world, take to the pitch to fight for supremacy. It may have been ‘only’ a Coppa Italia tie, however, on Tuesday this week a match was played that may have been the last time fans of Serie A could catch a glimpse of two Italian greats taking each other on when Francesco Totti’s Roma met and Alessandro Del Piero’s Juventus.

There has already been so much said about these two greats that there is no need for any introductions. These two have been playing for quite sometime and have become international stars and household names. With the amount of playing time Del Piero has seen this season and his probable departure at the end of the campaign, this match has a high probability of being Pinturicchio’s last game against his old friend and rival. Born two years apart in cities 260 miles away, these two men went on to personify Italian football for an entire generation and between them have earned some of the most prestigious honours in football.

Both players began playing for their respective clubs in the early nineties. In March of 1993, a youngster from the Roma youth team by the name of Francesco Totti was given his first start for the senior side while six months later the recently signed Del Piero made his first start for Juventus. The two men would go on to wear the number 10 for both their club and country. This season has been different than in the past as they both have featured less for their sides - Del Piero significantly less so -  as a new generation emerges at both the Stadio Olimpico and the Juventus Arena. Nevertheless, their experience, their class and their achievements have ensured they have both remained influential players on or off the field.

Del Piero has only featured in a handful of games this season. It was also announced earlier this season by club president, Andrea Agnelli, that it will be his last season for I Bianconeri. After the initial disappointment of the news, the Juve tifosi have settled down and have learned to except that this is only inevitable. They are now left to cherish Del Piero’s last few moments with the grand Old Lady of Italian football and on Tuesday night he gave them one to cherish. A trademark curling shot from outside the area struck the underside of the bar to put Juve 2-0 to the good. It was his first strike of the year and one reminiscent of the many other beautiful moments of magic Del Piero has produced for the Juventini. With Antonio Conte, it is uncertain whether he will get any more chances to start again and face-off with Totti as his former team-mate chases his first Scudetto as coach. Thus, it is only fitting that in what may be his last start against Roma, Il Capitano should score such a wonderful goal.

Francesco Totti has experienced similar issues to his former international team-mate, mainly at the start of the campaign. With the arrival of Luis Enrique and a selection of new arrivals, the Roma number 10 has had to forge his way back into the reckoning.  There was much controversy surrounding Roma earlier on when results were not going their way in the absence of their beloved captain.  After returning from injury Totti has played more but it was not until January 8th that Totti scored his first goal of the season. Last weekend saw Totti earn a brace in less than ten minutes. It was a momentous occasion for the Gladiator as his career goal tally now reads 211, the most by any player for one single club in Serie A history. A Juventus fan may never love Roma but they will always have respect for Francesco Totti.

Whether or not the Coppa Italia match or the league match in April is the last time these two players captain their teams together remains to be seen, but, it is highly likely. Regardless, this season will see the end of an era. These two loyal players have stuck by their clubs through thick and thin; Del Piero played a season in Serie B in 2006-07 while Totti could have won much more in his career had he joined one of the ‘big three’ or moved abroad. While some of today’s best players leave for bigger clubs or more money, or both, players like Del Piero and Totti remind us of the passion that lies in the hearts of fans. There will be players in the near future to carry the torch like Totti and Del Piero have for so long, but for now it is important to cherish the last moments of this long friendly rivalry.

Matthew Coccoluto

Originally from Boston now in LA. I work in production but football is my passion. I bleed black and white. Proud member of the Juventus Fan Club of Southern California. Forza Juve, Sempre Sara.

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