That title solidified his icon status in Rome as he continued writing his legacy for the next 16 years of his illustrious career. Even in retirement, ‘Er Bimbo de Oro’, which translates to ‘The Golden Boy’, Totti is Roma through and through as he was appointed technical director of the club in 2017 before leaving in 2019.
3. Paul Scholes (Manchester United)
The second Manchester United player on this list and perhaps their best midfield player ever. Paul Scholes is one of the greatest midfielders of his generation and I still think his ability is appreciated to its full extent.
Barcelona legend Xavi spoke glowingly about Scholes in 2012, calling him the best central midfielder he’s seen in the last 15 to 20 years. Scholes has won 11 Premier League titles which is more than any other Englishman as well as two Champions League titles with United.
One thing I’ll always remember about Paul Scholes is him returning from retirement in the 2012/13 season because of the midfield injuries Manchester United had suffered and once again bossing the midfield as United won a 13th Premier League title and their last one to date.
Alongside Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes inspired a generation and showed that at 5’6, you don’t have to be an imposing physical figure to not only lead a midfield, but a team that was successful across multiple decades.
While Lampard and Gerrard may get more plaudits from the media, it’s always the players that had to play against Scholes that speak so highly of him.
2. Franco Baresi (AC Milan)
This is Franco Baresi’s second appearance on my top five lists and both mentions are absolutely deserved. Baresi spent his entire 20-year career with AC Milan and is universally recognised as one of the greatest defenders to ever grace the game.
Having been captain for 15 of those 20 years, Baresi became a symbol for the team, especially in the years where Milan was relegated twice to Serie B, once for a match-fixing scandal in 1980 and finishing 18 th in the league in the 1981-82 season.
The likes of Aldo Maldera and Fulvio Collovati left the club in 1982 to Roma and Inter Milan which led to Baresi receiving the captain’s armband.
He stayed when he would have had opportunities to return to Serie A and he was rewarded with his loyalty as Milan’s greatest period was around the corner as they dominated both their domestic league and the European stage over the next nine years.
Baresi ended his career in 1997 having won six Serie A titles, three European Cup/UEFA Champions League titles, and four European Supercups amongst other honours. His number 6 was immediately retired upon Baresi’s departure from football which is perhaps the greatest way to honour a player that not only won everything but stayed through good and bad, just how a leader should.