Guardiola: Totti is phenomenal

The Catalan amusingly noted nothing has changed since his playing days at the Stadio Olimpico, with Totti on the field and him on the bench

Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola has admitted that he cannot believe that former Roma team-mate Francesco Totti is still playing at the highest level.

The Catalan joined the Giallorossi in the summer of 2002 but left halfway through the season after failing to nail down a regular berth in the starting line-up and eventually hung up his boots for good four years later.

Totti, though, is still going and, at 38, became the oldest goalscorer in Champions League history when he netted in Roma’s 1-1 draw at Manchester City a fortnight ago.

Guardiola has now returned to the Italian capital as a coach and the former playmaker was quick to lavish praise on his old colleague.

“It’s good to be back,” the Bayern boss enthused. “Here in Rome I was a player just for six months. It was a short but great time.

“Of course, when I played for Roma I sat on the bench and Totti was on the field. And it’s still the same!

“Anyone still playing at the age of 38 has a great passion for this sport. That’s phenomenal.

“Normally at the age of 38, a professional player has earned enough money and quits. Totti still plays and that’s because he loves this game.”

Despite his enduring admiration for both Totti and Roma, Guardiola is desperate to lead Bayern to victory in the first part of their crucial double-header with the Serie A side.

The former Barca boss is well aware of the threat posed by Rudi Garcia’s men but he feels that the Bavarians, who have won five games on the bounce in all competitions, are playing better now than they were at this point last season.

“We have a great opportunity here,” Guardiola argued. “If we win both matches against Roma, we will reach the knockout stage.

“But if we do not play well, we will not win. Roma are a good team and they have many fast players.

“But, at the moment, are playing better than we were at the same stage last year.”

Bayern top Group E with six points, two clear of second-placed Roma.

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