Italy striker Francesco Totti on Friday said he was retiring from international competition. The 2006 World Cup winner announced his decision during a news conference on Friday, citing "various physical reasons." The AS Roma captain had surgery on his left ankle last year, and said it can no longer support playing for both club and country.
"Quitting is an ugly word, but yes, I have taken this decision," he told reporters. "I am sorry but this is the most important thing for myself. I can't play 50 to 60 games a year anymore." Totti, who led Europe in scoring last year with 26 goals in 38 games, had not played for the Azzurri since winning the World Cup final against France last year. "When a player decides to let go of the Italy jersey, it's never good news," Italian federation president Giancarlo Abete said. "When it's someone on the level of a champion like Francesco Totti, the disappointment only increases." Totti scored nine goals in 58 appearances for the Azzurri.
It's certainly a sad day when a gifted player like Totti retires from international play, but history shows that these decisions aren't often final. France's Zinedine Zidane and Argentina's Juan Roman Riquelme are the perfect examples. Zidane retired from France after the Euro 2004 Championship in Portugal, only to return in 2005 to lead France all the way to the 2006 World Cup final. Riquelme retired from Argentina amid criticism following the World Cup only to astound spectators with his virtuoso return to the national team at the Copa America earlier this year. Totti is only 30 -- he'll have a long time to consider coming back.