Of course the most ice-cold moment in the history of Serie A was a hand gesture. This is Italy, after all.
And of course, it was delivered by Francesco Totti, the King of Rome, perfectly sh*thousing Italy’s most successful – and consequently most hated – club, Juventus.
Totti loved facing the Old Lady. Over the course of his legendary career, he made 39 appearances against them, scoring 10 goals and assisting a further seven.
They included some belters, too, with none quite as memorable as the long-range rocket in 2013 that caused commentator Carlo Zampa to belt out ‘Il Capitano!’, activating previously undiscovered octaves in human vocal cords.
Gianluigi Buffon knew all too well the ferocity Totti was capable of unleashing. The goalkeeper had stood between the sticks for Parma on the final day of the 2000-01 campaign, in which Roma needed a win to pip Juventus to the Scudetto.
Guided by Totti since he was 22 years old – Serie A’s youngster-ever captain – his club needed his leadership that day at the Olimpico. Roma had topped the table for almost the entirety of the campaign and even built up a nine-point lead come April, but they almost contrived to blow it, allowing Juve to close the gap by dropping points in seven of their last 11 outings.
Just as the pressure reached boiling point, Totti stepped up to diffuse everything, pouncing to open the scoring after 19 minutes. It was the most important goal of his career and the most painful dagger he’d ever plunge into Juventus’ heart.
Roma beat Parma 3-1 in 2001 on the final day of the season to win Serie A.
Francesco Totti set them on their way with this powerful strike ⚽️ 👑 pic.twitter.com/GdPcDNcuHa
— Football Remind (@FootballRemind) May 4, 2021
Vincenzo Montella doubled their lead shortly before half-time and Gabriel Batistuta’s 78th-minute goal all but sealed it – Roma won the Italian title for only the third time in their entire history.
It was the only Scudetto he’d ever win, going on to finish a runner-up with Roma a further eight times over the course of his remarkable 24-year career. Nine if you include their bumping up the table in the Calciopoli-inflicted 2005-06 season.
And frequently, over the years, Juventus denied them greater glory.
“We came to Turin to play our game, but you saw what happened and that affected the match,” Totti said pointedly after a particularly controversial 3-2 defeat in 2014.
“For years the same old incidents keep happening. I don’t know if we were beaten by referees, but we certainly were not beaten by Juventus tonight.”
After retiring, Totti revealed he held a particular grudge against Juve icon Pavel Nedved.
“I never could stand him on the pitch,” wrote Totti in his 2018 autobiography.
“He was a shocking whiner. You grazed him and he’d soar for 10 metres. It made you want to punch him and that says everything.”
“Having said all that, damn he was good,” he added, with grudging respect.
So Roma’s 4-0 victory over Juventus in February 2004 – their biggest win in the fixture since 1931 – will have tasted particularly sweet, especially with Nedved lining up on the opposite side.
Olivier Dacourt put Roma ahead in the first half, then Totti scored from the penalty spot, while Antonio Cassano incensing Pierluigi Collina by committing GBH on the corner flag after a late brace won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
The lasting image of that victory wasn’t any of the four goals, nor Cassano’s wild celebration, but rather Totti lauding the scoreline over Juventus.
Having been provoked by Igor Tudor, Il Capitan had the perfect response: first he brought a finger to his lips, then he raised three more to remind the Juventus defender of each of Roma’s four goals before waving goodbye and making a motion universally understood in Italy to mean ‘go home’.
Totti didn’t need to say a word. He needed just six seconds and four quick movements to express all that needed to be said – be quiet, four goals, goodbye, go home. So efficiently brutal.
— s_alotaibi ؛ JM (@sultan_alotaebe) February 8, 2021
Fabio Capello’s Giallorossi played some exceptional football in the 2003-04 campaign, setting the pace with 11 wins and three draws from their first 14 outings. A mid-season wobble and late-season collapse saw them ultimately succumb to second place, finishing behind Carlo Ancelotti’s Milan.
That season they produced a number of performances that deserve to be cherished and replayed for years to come, particularly in the late winter, by following the 4-0 thrashing of Juve with a 6-0 mauling over Siena and 4-1 victories over Parma and Inter.
But no moment that season will live as long in the memory as Totti sh*thousing Juventus. Bravo, Il Capitan.