Rome

Soccer: Totti one goal from being Serie A's 2nd top scorer

Roma captain notched 224th goal in 1-0 win over Juventus

Soccer: Totti one goal from being Serie A's 2nd top scorer

Rome, February 18 - Francesco Totti is within reach of becoming Serie A's second top scorer of all time after his ballistic effort on Saturday gave AS Roma a 1-0 win over leaders Juventus. The thunderbolt from outside the box, which travelled at 133km/h, was his 224th goal in the Italian top flight. That puts him one behind Swedish great Gunnar Nordahl, who is second in the rankings after scoring 225 goals for AC Milan and Roma in the 1940s and 50s. Former Italy international Totti will have his first chance to equal Nordahl's tally when Roma visit Atalanta next weekend. Once he is level with the Swede he will be able to get to work on making inroads into the record of Silvio Piola, who scored 274 goals for Pro Vercelli, Lazio, Juventus and Novara between 1929. Totti has already left great names such as Giuseppe Meazza, Jose Altafini (both 216), Roberto Baggio (205) and Alessandro Del Piero (188) in his wake. Despite being 36, Totti is enjoying some of the best form of his career. He has scored nine times in Serie A this season and laid on 10 assists for his teammates. But, as well as being a formidable footballer, Totti is also a great club man. So it is in character that his thoughts after scoring against Juventus regarded how the goal might help Roma reverse their recent poor form, rather than his legacy as a player. Roma, who sacked coach Zdenek Zeman at the start of the month and put assistant Aurelio Andreazzoli in charge as caretaker boss, are a disappointing eighth in Serie A at the moment. 'It was an important goal against one of the best teams in the world,' said Totti. 'Let's hope it's a turning point. Here at Roma it's easy to get carried away after a win. 'We have to keep our feet on the ground and think about one game at a time. Let's hope that another championship can start for us'. The born-and-bred Roman made his top-flight debut aged 16 in a 2-0 win at Brescia in 1993 and scored his first league goal the year after in a 1-1 draw against Foggia. For one of Italian football's finest talents of recent times, he has relatively few big club titles to his name, the 2001 scudetto and the 2007 and 2008 Italian Cup. He has accepted that as the price of his loyalty to Roma, after refusing to succumb to the lure of bigger clubs. He also sacrificed his Azzurri career for Roma, retiring from international football after being part of the 2006 World Cup-winning campaign, saying his body was no longer up to playing for both club and country. The year after he won the Golden Boot prize for being Europe's top scorer in domestic competition with 26 Serie A goals. Totti has shown hardiness to reach the 224 total, frequently returning from injury to find more goals after critics suggested he was past his best. He has also displayed character to come back from the media poundings he suffered following a handful of moments of ill discipline, including an infamous spitting incident at Euro 2002 and a violent hack on Mario Balotelli in the 2010 1-0 Italian Cup final defeat to Inter Milan. Totti may yet have enough time to catch up with Piola. He has said he wants to play until he is 40 and the club have hinted they will renew his contract, which is set to expire in 2014.

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