Totti, the legend of Roma. In the great NY Times piece about Roma's Francesco Totti, he mentions his two favorite soccer memories playing for Roma, one a goal and one an assist. A first time volley and a backheel pass.
It is also a side of soccer he fears is increasingly being lost in the sport’s thirst for tumult. It is telling that Totti’s most precious memories date back quite some way. He cited a goal against Sampdoria as his best, “a left-foot volley that showcased all of my characteristics,” and a back-heel against Werder Bremen, “back when I was very young,” as his favorite assist.
I was able to find video of the volley he scored against Sampdoria but coudn't dig up the backheel assist. The volley is incredible though. Just look at from where he strikes the ball, near the edge of the goal box. It's an impossible angle to score from yet he does. Just an amazing goal. It's normally a spot you might even cross the ball from, not actually try to score. And yet Totti of course does...
While I couldn't find video of Totti's backheel assist against Werder Bremen, here's some of Totti's top backheel passes. When you've mastered the art of passing the soccer ball with all the other normal parts of your foot like Totti, then you just start making genius passes with just your heel.
It's interesting in the piece that Totti talks about how he likes soccer players who are more technical and skilled, not the physical or perhaps more athletic players which is more part of the modern game. But while he says this is says he wished he'd played with Ronaldo, the Brazilian Ronaldo and not the one from Portugal. Yes, the Brazilian Ronaldo was skilled but he also relied on his speed a great deal to beat players and score goals.
To me, the soccer player who mosts plays like Totti is Barcelona's Iniesta. That's the player who uses his brain the most in the game today. It thought Totti would say he wished he been able to play with him, but maybe it's just that Iniesta is too similar to him and he wanted to play with Ronaldo so he could set him up with passes.