Totti plays down Rome derby gesture

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The Independent Football

Roma captain Francesco Totti has attempted to calm the furore over his 'thumbs-down' gestures that angered Lazio's fans and coach, Edy Reja, after yesterday's city derby.

Tempers flared after the match that Roma won 2-1 to leapfrog Inter Milan into first place in Serie A, and Totti inflamed the situation by goading the supporters of Lazio, who were the hosts of Sunday's Eternal City derby.

Reja was so upset that he called for Totti to be slapped with a 10-match ban.

"Considering how the game went, after the final whistle, I let myself go with the heated atmosphere of triumph," said Totti in a statement on his official website.

"I didn't intend to offend anyone and I apologise if someone has been affected by my way of celebrating the result with my team-mates and the fans.

"In a way, the rivalry between Lazio and us is part of this.

"Those who are from Rome know this.

"For example, I didn't get angry when earlier this week, someone at Formello (Lazio's training ground) used a photo of me to try to motivate the Lazio players.

"Moreover, in the past other Lazio players have taken a starring role in heated celebrations.

"The truth is that sarcasm and joyous celebrations at the end of a game is part of the game and part of the atmosphere that an entire city feels for this big game."

Totti and team-mate Daniele De Rossi, two members of Italy's World Cup winning squad in 2006, were so swept up in the intensity of the derby that Roma coach Claudio Ranieri substituted both at half-time.