Football and padel, a winning understanding. And what challenges between Totti, Albertini, Di Biagio and Candela

The Cupra Padel Tour ends today. Yesterday animated by the (more or less) friendly matches between the former players, paired with the best in the ranking. The former Giallorossi captain won

Francesco Pietrella

The mood of the tournament can be understood already in the middle of the morning, under the Roman sun, in front of a couple of beers. Four people at the table, easy to understand who lost and who “gained” a little. “So, do you pay?”. “Yes, even if that volley didn’t touch the grate…”. A classic. And down to discuss recoveries and setbacks, lost points and other lucky ones, always with a smile and respect, while on the “central” of the Pamphili Padel Club the challenge between padel players and former players is staged: Albertini, Gigi Di Biagio, Candela and Totti against “the Messi and the Cristiano Ronaldo” of the circuit. That is Tello, Cinghotto, Tapia and Pablo Lima, four stars of the Cupra Padel Tour.


When you’ve played football for twenty years, the competition stays inside, and when you lose a point, miss a volley or miss a backhand, something snaps inside. Totti, Di Biagio, Albertini and Candela proved it once again. They called it “exhibition”, “friendly challenge”, but in the end they were given with a racket, trying out shots in front of the “real” padel players. Totti with Lima, Di Biagio with Tello, Candela with Cinghotto and Albertini with Tapia. In between, various sketches with a hint of comedy, obviously with the former Roma captain in the lead. At one point Albertini knocks out a ball that touches the grate and makes. “I can’t ask the public if he is out, everyone here in Rome cheers for you …”. The two have been playing against for some time and it shows. The level is not bad.


Candela’s smashes are for photography, Totti plays a little while standing but takes them all and teases. “Go and take this”, he says to Demetrius, another who recovers everything. Then at a certain point Di Biagio comes out, straight along the line to a surprised Candela. “You weren’t expecting that huh? I was a midfielder for twenty years, I have peripheral vision ”. And down cheers. Between one match and another, the former Under 21 coach checks Atalanta-Lazio to stay up to date, then resumes. Play right and recover, a bit like when he went out on the pitch. Totti, on the other hand, tries the shots and invents, by 10. They do not always succeed, but when they enter, applause fly. Candela is more silent, plays with the Roma sweatshirt and moves to the left. The quality is there, the shots as well, even Tello and Lima recognize it.


Totti has fun with jokes and gags. At one point he engages in an almost endless exchange with Tapia. The Argentine raises it and Totti tries the ‘bandaja’, a shot to close. One is 22 and the other 45, but the Roma captain resists and holds out. One, two, four, eight times, then Tapia takes home the number 5 point in the ranking. “These are Martians, they play at 5%”. Even if every now and then someone even surprises the frying pans. A couple of times Di Biagio and Totti, others Albertini and Candela. In the second match Vincent recovers a ball off the pitch and then closes the point with elegance. Applause. In the end Totti and Lima win, rewarded at the end of the game.

Teasing him to his friend Di Biagio – second with Tello – is inevitable, and arrives during the delivery of the ‘cup’ for second place. “Strike a pose, I’ll take a picture of you”. “Then send it to me.” And laughter. Then Francesco is awarded. “He is the first to win in padel”. At the end of the match usual selfies among the people, while on the other fields the round of 16 is played. There is also room for an amarcord. A boy stops Totti and tells him he is coming from Cesena. “You scored your last goal as a footballer against us in the Italian Cup, remember?”. “Of course…”. February 2017, 4 years ago. If he had a DeLorean he would go even further back.


The tournament is about to end. After more than three thousand members and dozens of stages throughout Italy, the Pamphili Padel Club degli Argiolas is hosting the final stages. Yesterday the group stage and the round of 16 were staged, today quarterfinals, semifinals and grand final. Sixteen couples left in the competition between the men’s and women’s draws, 8 each. It was played on 11 courts, 8 outdoors and three indoors. And today we return to the field with the last phase of the tournament.

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Football and padel, a winning understanding. And what challenges between Totti, Albertini, Di Biagio and Candela

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