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Francesco Totti terrified his teammates with a penalty and rejected a big money transfer to AC Milan when he was 12, the Roma legend was so beloved the monks took pictures with him and the prisoner had his sentence extended to meet him


Andrea Pirlo is often credited with sending Joe Hart back to Shrewsbury with a superb Panenka penalty during Euro 2012.

But as great as the former AC Milan and Juventus player is, he’s not the first Italian to pull it off in a penalty shootout at a European Championship.

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Totti showed balls of steel years before Pirlo stepped in

It was yet another iconic moment in the history of the European Championship

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It was yet another iconic moment in the history of the European Championship

Francesco Totti executed his ‘spoon kick’ perfectly as Italy eliminated co-hosts the Netherlands from the competition 12 years earlier.

He showed incredible composure in such a high pressure situation, but it was something he had planned in advance. This, however, did nothing to calm his teammates.

Alessandro Nesta has revealed that Totti beat him on the Playstation during the tournament, scoring a goal with a Panenka and vowing to do it in real life.

Luigi Di Biagio led the Italians 2-0 in the shootout and on his return Totti said: “Now I’m going to spoon!”

“Is he crazy? wondered captain Paolo Maldini. “There is a final on the line.”

Totti made Van der Sar, who was a very accomplished keeper, look rather silly

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Totti made Van der Sar, who was a very accomplished keeper, look rather silly

And Totti certainly enjoyed the penalty

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And Totti certainly enjoyed the penalty

Maldini needn’t have worried as Totti calmly brought his penalty home with Edwin van der Sar the wrong way.

Totti later said, “To take such a penalty you have to be crazy or very good and I don’t think I’m crazy.”

Few people would have ice in their veins at this point, but Totti is used to chaos.

A year before joining local club Roma as a 13-year-old, AC Milan sent a 300 million lira (about £132,000) offer to his then club AS Lodigiani .

There were high hopes for Totti, who made his first-team debut aged 16

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There were high hopes for Totti, who made his first-team debut aged 16

Milan were Italy’s biggest club at the time and Totti admits he probably would have gone there but his mum had other ideas.

He told Roma’s official website: “On this occasion it was my family who said no. My mother especially. She’s pretty old school: apprehensive and possessive.

“My dad worked late, so she was the one looking after me most of the time. She didn’t want me to go away – she wanted me all to herself.

Instead, a life as a one-club man awaited him as he made his debut aged 16 on March 28, 1993. Totti says he later rejected the chance to sign with the Real Madrid in the 2003/04 season.

Francesco Totti (Roma to Real Madrid, 2003) – click on the right arrow, above, to see the rest of the gallery

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Totti preferred the option of becoming a Roma legend instead

A move to the Bernabeu would undoubtedly have brought him more trophies – Totti has only won one Serie A and two Coppa Italias and Suppercoppa Italianas.

It would also have been the perfect opportunity to get away from the Totti mania that greeted him every day in the Italian capital and which peaked after their Scudetto victory in 2001. Even the devoted to God wanted a piece from him…

He said: ‘I was having dinner in a restaurant with my family and friends when we heard this roar from a crowd. Word had spread that I was there.

“I went outside and there were 5,000 people on the streets and they wanted to come in.

Totti scored in Roma's final game of the season which confirmed them as Italian champions

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Totti scored in Roma’s final game of the season which confirmed them as Italian champions

Unsurprisingly, it sparked many celebrations across the city

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Unsurprisingly, it sparked many celebrations across the city

“The owner told me that there was no other way out, so the only way out was to climb over the railings and escape from the top towards the convent. Three or four friends and I climbed the slope between the plants in the dark.

“As soon as I jumped to the other side, I thought, ‘If there’s a watchdog here, he’s going to have us for dinner.

“Instead a guy with a torch came – he was a monk. He shone it in my face and said, ‘You’re Totti!’ He wanted my autograph before he let us out.

One man even extended his own prison sentence to see Totti up close and personal.

Totti was adored by Roma fans and some went to great lengths to see him

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Totti was adored by Roma fans and some went to great lengths to see him

Totti is a Roma and Italy legend and footballing icon

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Totti is a Roma and Italy legend and footballing icon

During his visit to Rebibbia prison as a player, he told Football Italia: “We went around the cells and there were inmates supporting each team.

“There were players from Roma and Lazio, and they were all very happy because for them it was like seeing the Pope.

“There was a table for us to sign autographs and this boy was shouting and gesticulating. At some point he started trying to get his way.

“He wanted a picture with me, but I couldn’t understand why he was so determined.

“I learned that he was to be released the week before, but he had asked permission to stay because he knew I was coming.

“He said to them, ‘If you make me leave, I’ll go crazy to be sent back here!'”

Roma fans now have a special new presence in manager Jose Mourinho. But for once, the Portuguese will have to settle for second place as the club’s main man no matter what he does at the Stadio Olimpico.


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