Sampdoria coach Sinisa Mihajlovic says Roma captain Francesco Totti is the greatest Italian player of all time.
Mihajlovic’s side travel to Roma on Sunday looking for their third successive victory, while the hosts will be aiming to close the nine-point gap to Serie A leaders Juventus.
At 37, Totti is entering the final stages of an illustrious career, and Mihajlovic – who played at Roma between 1992 and 1994 – paid tribute to the playmaker, who was part of the Italy squad that won the FIFA World Cup in Germany in 2006.
“I consider Francesco the greatest Italian footballer of all time,” he told Corriere dello Sport.
“Greater than (Roberto) Baggio and (Gianni) Rivera. Roma with or without Totti is not the same team.
“If he is not there, there is no light. I hope that he continues to play for a long time and goes to the World Cup. He is a great champion.”
Mihajlovic admitted that the pair have had their differences in the past, but that now their relationship is on good terms.
“I consider him my friend, whilst there was a period in which we did not speak,” he said.
“It came after he did not come to my farewell game in football. I invited him and he did not even answer me. To me, respect is important.
“Now we have patched up the relationship and everything is fine.”
Totti came on as a substitute in Roma’s 3-0 loss at Napoli in the Coppa Italia semi-finals on Wednesday, a result that saw the capital club lose 5-3 on aggregate.