NAME: Francesco Totti
POSITION: Midfielder
HEIGHT: 1.80 M
CAPS: 28
CLUB: Roma
BIRTHDATE: Sep 27, 1976

The first thing Giovanni Trapattoni did when he took over as Italy coach from Dino Zoff was to hand the No.10 shirt to Francesco Totti.

That decision prior to the opening qualifier against Hungary last September was arguably the most important move that Trapattoni has made in his 15 months with Italy.

Totti's talent has never been in doubt since he made his debut for Roma as a 16-year old back in 1993, but at Euro 2000, Zoff appeared uncertain with how to utilise Totti's creative skills.

Rather than adjust his formation, Zoff forced the Rome-bornplayer to play as an out and out striker -- with the unenviable task of competing for a place with Alessandro Del Piero.

Trapattoni made his mind up from the outset that Totti would play in the role he revels in at Roma -- floating behind the strikers with a licence to roam in search of space and possession.

The decision has paid off with Italy's style revolutionised as they have producing some of the best attacking football they have played in years -- most if itemminating from the right boot of Totti.

"Totti can transform a side. There are very few players who have that capability," said Trapattoni after Italy secured qualification with a 1-0 win over Hungary.

"Francesco has the talent and he has now matured so that he will be Italy's leader in the finals. He is reaching just the right age to show his real quality on the biggest stage," added the Italy coach.

That weight of responsibilty is something Totti has grown used to at Roma where as well as being the focal point for all attacks he is the captain and 'bandiera' -- the standard bearer of the squad.

Last season he led Roma to their first title in 18 years, scoring 12 goals and creating dozens more, and it was no surprise when he was voted the best Italian player of the season.

The eulogies have continued without pause since, with Roma coach Fabio Capello tipping him to be named European Player of the Year and Trapattoni comparing him to Portuguese legend Eusebio.

"I'll do all that I can to live up to such flattering comparisons," said Totti.

In Japan and South Korea he will have the perfect stage to do just that.

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