Andy Richardson investigates the complex and controversial 2010 World Cup legacy.
|Totti has declared his interest – but Lippi has said there is no guarantee of a spot [EPA]|
AS Roma striker and Italy veteran Francesco Totti has declared himself ready to play for his country in the World Cup if coach Marcello Lippi asks him to do so.
The 33-year-old quit the Azzurri after their 2006 World Cup triumph but has finally announced he would be willing to return to the fold having only hinted at the prospect in recent months.
Totti played under Lippi in Italy’s 2006 World Cup triumph and he said that he had great respect for the coach.
“I will decide in April.
“If Marcello Lippi calls me up, if I am fit and if the group wants me, I will go,” Totti told Italian newspaper La Repubblicca.
Totti, who has played with Roma since 1993, resisting all big money attempts to lure him away, said that he felt he could play for a further five years during which he wanted to win another Italian league title with the club.
Coach Lippi has long hailed Totti but has never said he will be guaranteed a place back in the squad.
Constant injury problems over recent seasons could pose a problem while some players could resent his inclusion given he did not assist the Azzurri in qualification for June’s tournament in South Africa.
Totti has broken a string of scoring records having spent his entire career at Roma, who are joint fourth in Italy’s Serie A thanks to his nine goals this term.
Luca Toni, a new team mate of Totti having signed on loan from Bayern Munich, is also a candidate for a return to the Italy squad but first wants to concentrate on Roma.
“I haven’t come to Roma solely for the World Cup. Now my aim to score lots of goals and play well. Then we’ll see what happens in June,” Toni, whose Italy hopes could be complicated if Totti returns, told a news conference.