One of the greatest Italian footballers of all time. In these days of high-price transfers, he unusually spent his entire playing career with his local club Roma. He eventually retired at the age of 40 after playing 786 games for the club. He was also a member of Italy’s 2006 World Cup winning side.
Following his retirement, he was presented with the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award and was elected a member of the Laureus World Sports Academy.
He played in 25 Serie A seasons, scored 307 goals and played under 17 managers. His career ended with a flourish in May 2017, coming on in the 54th minute to score a last minute winner against Genoa which secured a Champions League group place the following season for Roma.
He was renowned for his creative skills and his vision, and he was a formidable goalscorer. He is the second-highest scorer of all time in the Italian League with 250 goals, and is the sixth-highest scoring Italian in all competitions. At Roma, he won one Serie A title in 2000/01 and twice won the Coppa Italia. He was the youngest club captain in the history of Serie A.
He played 58 times for the Italian national team, recovering from serious injuries to be an important member of the victorious 2006 World Cup winning side. Despite a lack of match practice during three months out of action, Francesco was named as a member of the 2006 World Cup squad and played in all seven games for Italy, including the first 61 minutes of the final against France. He played the entire tournament with metal plates and screws in his ankle that had not been removed following surgery.
In 2004, he was named in the FIFA 100, a list of the world's greatest living players as selected by Pelé, as part of FIFA's centenary celebration. He is now a club director with Roma.