Footballers on film: Roma legend Totti becomes award-winning movie star

As a player, AS Roma and Italy legend Francesco Totti earned all the plaudits a footballer could dream of, and he can now add “award-winning film star” to his impressive resume.

Totti spent his entire, 25-year professional career with Roma, making 786 appearances before retiring in 2017 at the age of 40. He won Serie A in 2001, and two Coppa Italias. With the Italy national team he earned 58 caps — the last of which saw him win the 2006 World Cup in a penalty-shootout victory over France.

Released in October of last year, “Mi Chiamo Francesco Totti” (“My Name is Francesco Totti”) has been named best documentary at the 2021 Nastri d’Argento (Silver Ribbon) film awards in Italy.

Alex Infascelli’s film sees Totti reliving his career highs and lows, while staring into a mirror as he prepared to take part in his final game before retirement. It charts his earliest years playing football as a child right the way through to his tear-jerking farewell at the Stadio Olimpico in 2017.

As well as winning the “Cinema Del Reale” (best documentary) award, Totti himself was also named “Best Protagonist” at the ceremony, which took place on Wednesday.

According to the Silver Ribbon judging panel, the Roma icon was commended for “showing his human side and his most intimate emotions throughout his professional career”.

Totti is certainly not the first footballer to appear on film, though it must be said that not many of his counterparts have enjoyed as much critical success.

Eric Cantona

Cantona boasts a more than ample cinematic portfolio, and even had an eponymous role in British film “Looking for Eric.”

The former Leeds United, Manchester United and France star has starred in and directed a number of French and European art house movies, as well as sharing screen time with big names like Cate Blanchett and Sir Richard Attenborough in “Elizabeth.”

The “xXx” action movie franchise returned in 2016 with “xXx: Return of Xander Cage.”

Vin Diesel was back in the title role, but the leading man was also joined by Paris Saint-German and Brazil forward Neymar, who managed to land himself a minor but incredibly apt cameo in which he appears to play a young Brazilian man who kicks things.

David Beckham

Former England captain David Beckham has a pretty plum cameo in “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” with some dialogue in the scene when the sword is drawn from the stone by the titular hero.

Even with a prosthetic nose and scar make-up, Becks still smoulders.

And who can forget the bit-part role in “Goal” for the former Manchester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy midfielder?

Ronaldinho

A year or two ago, former Barcelona and Brazil star Ronaldinho was cast to play “Ronaldo” — a Brazilian martial arts expert — in the latest movie in Jean Claude Van Damme’s “Kickboxer” movie franchise.

Ronaldinho was apparently tasked with honing Van Damme’s roundhouse kick technique in “Kickboxer: Retaliation,” which also counted Mike Tyson and Hafthor “The Mountain” Bjornsson from Game of Thrones among the ensemble.

Olivier Giroud and Presnel Kimpembe

Fresh from winning the 2018 World Cup with France, Giroud and Kimpembe were offered the chance to flex their acting muscles in an animated version of Spider-Man.

Giroud used his dulcet tones to voice the Green Goblin (“Bouffon Vert“) in the French-dubbed version of “Spider-Man: New Generation,” while Kimpembe filled the part of Scorpion, another villainous foe of our web-slinging hero.

Pele

Probably the most beloved of all occasions that football has been committed to celluloid starred probably the greatest player of all time.

Brazil great Pele was among the real professionals — including Bobby Moore and Ossie Ardiles — who starred alongside Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone in 1981’s “Escape To Victory,” in which a team of Allied Prisoners Of War try to escape Nazi generals.

Barcelona and Spain legend Iniesta landed a main role in “¡Piratas!“, the Spanish-language version of an animated movie by Aardman Studios (of Wallace & Gromit fame) in which the Barcelona legend lent his voice to an albino pirate who has his heart set on winning the coveted “Pirate of the Year” award.

Paving the way for Giroud and Kimpembe, fellow Les Bleus and Barcelona star Griezmann was chosen to provide the voice of Superman in the French version of the “Lego Batman Movie,” as originally voiced by Channing Tatum.

Zinedine Zidane

Zidane may now be the hugely successful coach of Real Madrid, and had a glittering playing career with Bordeaux, Juventus and Real Madrid, but he has also turned his hand to acting.

It’s hard to tell how good Zidane’s cameo in 2008’s “Asterix at the Olympic Games” actually was because the mere sight of him with long hair is mesmerising enough.

This French movie — the second-most expensive non-English-language production of all time when it was made — also featured parts for fellow sports stars Michael Schumacher, Tony Parker and Amelie Mauresmo.

Hardly a memorable classic but Podolski — once of Bayern Munich, Cologne, Arsenal and Inter Milan — enjoyed a brief comic cameo in a German film called “Macho Man,” which was shot in his home city of Cologne.

“My scene is in the [Cologne] stadium, and I think it’s really funny. Totally fits me,” he gushed upon announcing the role. “And I am delighted to be on board.”

Vinnie Jones

Probably the ex-footballer with the most accomplished acting CV, with impressive stints playing thuggish goons in action blockbusters like “Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels,” “Gone In 60 Seconds,” “Snatch,” “Swordfish,” “Mean Machine,” “X-Men: The Last Stand,” etc, etc.

Jones as also known as a hard-man of the game, playing for Wimbledon, Leeds, Sheffield United, Chelsea and Wales.

File under: hopelessly typecast but happily racking up the paychecks.

Carlo Ancelotti

Ancelotti pulled a few strings to bag a brief cameo as a doctor in “Star Trek Beyond,” released in 2016.

The affable Everton manager explained that he got the part through a friend, who just so happened to be the husband of Zoe Saldana, who plays Uhura in the rebooted franchise.

Frank Leboeuf

The former Chelsea defender’s biggest film credit to date is his seminal role as “Swiss doctor” in the 2014 Professor Stephen Hawking biopic “The Theory of Everything.”

Since then, the 1998 World Cup winner has racked up several other movie roles, though it must be said that none are quite as prominent.

Stan Collymore

Collymore made his acting debut alongside Sharon Stone in the 2006’s erotic thriller sequel “Basic Instinct II: Risk Addiction.”

The ex-Liverpool man’s character was killed off before the opening credits, but he still got to walk the red carpet at the world premiere.

Ian Wright

Proving that golden era Premier League strikers seemingly provide a rich seam for casting directors, Arsenal and Crystal Palace legend Wright played “Duke” in 2011 British crime thriller classic “Black Gun of the Sun”.