Garcia lauds 'force of nature' Totti

Rudi Garcia hailed Francesco Totti as "a force of nature" on the eve of the talismanic Roma captain's 38th birthday.

Totti made his debut for the club aged just 16 back in 1993 and the evergreen forward is still going strong as Roma prepare to face Verona on Saturday.

The Rome-born former Italy international holds legendary status at the Serie A outfit and coach Garcia lavished praise on the veteran's professionalism, which has enabled him to stand the test of time.

"Tomorrow is the time to wish him happy birthday, not today. I'll do it tomorrow," the Roma coach said on Friday. 

"I think we shouldn't tell him his age, because I'm sure he thinks to be still 28! We all know he's a key player, he's fantastic, I've already said so after the game against Parma. It's a pleasure seeing Francesco having fun with his and our Roma.

"It depends on many things. Physically he's a force of nature. It's impossible to play at 38 if you are not gifted as an athlete, then we have to remember his professionalism: you can't last for so long without an 'invisible' training.

"He's professional from the head to his toes."

Roma will attempt to maintain their 100 per cent record in the league when they host Verona and Garcia has stressed that he does not see the fight for the title being a two-horse race between his side and Juventus, who have also made a perfect start.

"It's already the fourth game and even if we are both at the top it's too soon to judge," the Frenchman said. "My only opponent is the next one, Hellas Verona, there isn't another one for me and for Roma in this moment."

The Frenchman also dismissed any notion that Roma could have one eye on next Tuesday's UEFA Champions League clash at Manchester City and a mouthwatering encounter against Juve when they face Verona.

"I don't think [my players will be distracted by upcoming matches against City and Juve]," he added,

"Before the game against CSKA Moscow my players showed they were 100 per cent focused on the league and on the match they were playing in. For me it will be the same tomorrow.

"We need to be 100 per cent focused on the next match. It will be like that for me and for the players."