Francesco Totti said he is "ever prouder of what I achieved on the pitch, and off it especially" after being honoured with the 2017 UEFA President's Award at a ceremony in Monaco.
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Italian legend Francesco Totti has been presented with the 2017 UEFA President's Award in recognition of his outstanding achievements, professional excellence and exemplary personal qualities.
Totti, a loyal one-club player who made a record 786 appearances for home-town team Roma over a 24-year career, received the award from UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin at the UEFA Champions League group stage draw ceremony in Monaco on Thursday.
"Francesco was not just a fantastic player, not just an idol of dozens of thousands of children," said Mr Čeferin.
"His dedication to the one club he played for is fantastic. There is deep respect from UEFA’s side and deep respect from my side."
"It's the first time I've been given an award by UEFA," said Totti. "It's an important recognition and it's rewarding, so now I'm ever prouder of what I achieved on the pitch, and off it especially."
The 40-year-old forward made his final appearance for Roma on 28 May. After making his debut in March 1993, he first captained the Giallorossi at the age of 22 and scored 307 goals in his club career. In Italian football as a whole, only one player, Silvio Piola, has bettered his tally of 250 Serie A goals.
Congratulations Francesco Totti!— UEFA (@UEFA) August 24, 2017
🏅 🇮🇹 "Il Gladiatore" 🇮🇹 🏅
UEFA President’s Award winner 2017 pic.twitter.com/Se6xGH776w
Totti won the FIFA World Cup with Italy in 2006, and made 58 appearances for his country. He helped Roma to the Scudetto in 2001 and the Coppa Italia in 2007 and 2008.
He became the oldest goalscorer in UEFA Champions League history in September 2014, three days after his 38th birthday. Two days on from his 40th birthday, he claimed a hat-trick of assists in a UEFA Europa League game.
"Football is my passion," he said. "[To me it means] passion, enjoyment and respect."
Previous winners of the UEFA President's Award
1998: Jacques Delors (European Commission, France)
1999: No award
2000: Guy Roux (France)
2001: Juan Santisteban (Spain)
2002: Sir Bobby Robson (England)
2003: Paolo Maldini (Italy)
2004: Ernie Walker (Scotland)
2005: Frank Rijkaard (Netherlands)
2006: Wilfried Straub (Germany)
2007: Alfredo Di Stéfano (Spain)
2008: Sir Bobby Charlton (England)
2009: Eusébio (Portugal)
2010: Raymond Kopa (France)
2011: Gianni Rivera (Italy)
2012: Franz Beckenbauer (Germany)
2013: Johan Cruyff (Netherlands)
2014: Josef Masopust (Czech Republic)
2015: No award
2016: No award