Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Totti leads tributes to Sensi

Roma star Francesco Totti has added his voice to the flood of tributes for Giallorossi President Franco Sensi, who died after a long illness on Sunday night.

President Sensi with TottiAlthough Sensi, who was 82, was not the man who brought Totti to the club, he did ensure he remained at the Stadio Olimpico in 1997 when then coach Carlos Bianchi wanted to offload him.

Sensi often referred to his talismanic captain as the son he never had and one of Roma's most cherished images is that of the pair celebrating the Giallorossi's long-awaited Scudetto in 2001 at the Circo Massimo.

"The death of president Sensi is very painful," said Totti. "We have lost a figure of pivotal reference in the history of Roma and this sport, but above all a man who was kind, passionate, true.

"He leaves us with 15 years of love which will remain indelible in my mind and my heart.

"Every day I spent with him is unforgettable, but the memory that I have most fixed in my mind at this time is that day at the Circo Massimo and his happiness.

"He loved Roma and did so much for this club and also on a personal level for so many players."

The Roma players who are involved with the Italy team will fly back to the capital to pay their respects at the chapel of rest later before the funeral on Wednesday morning while the Azzurri will wear black armbands when they take on Austria later that night.

Roma and Italy midfielder Alberto Aquilani, who had worked with Sensi his entire footballing career, also expressed his grief - as did the rest of the Roma players.

"Sensi was for us players like a second father," he said. "He helped us, he succeeded as well in putting to one side the sporting aspect, ensuring the human one prevailed.

"He considered us like a family. We found it difficult to call him president.

"It was news that broke the enthusiasm with which I felt at (Italy coach Marcello) Lippi's call-up.

"An important person both from a human and professional point of view is now missing. Roma has lost a great man. I will miss him."

Tributes also flooded in from across Italy's footballing spectrum as most clubs expressed their sorrow on their websites, while Rome's politicians have announced they will name a street after Sensi - the Giallorossi's new stadium will be named after their former president as well.

Sensi became joint President of Roma in May 1993, along with Pietro Mezzaroma, before taking sole control six months later.

He presided over one of Roma's most successful periods, as they won the Scudetto for the first time in nearly 20 years, as well as finishing second five times since then and lifting two Coppa Italia trophies and two Italian Super Cups.

England coach Fabio Capello was in charge of the Giallorossi at the time of their Scudetto triumph - as well as leading them to the runners-up spot twice - and he also expressed his grief.

"I have very good memories of President Sensi," he told Rai Sport. "We experienced five years together, earning a Scudetto triumph and taking so many pleasures.

"As a man he was reliable, serene and capable. And he transmitted his reliability to the squad."

Source: Sporting Life

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