Could Francesco Totti make a sensational return for Italy?

The 2006 World Cup winner has been in incredible form this season

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The Independent Football

In Rome ‘Francesco’ is the name on everybody’s lips. Pope Francis is taking the world by storm, grabbing the headlines, while on the back pages, the Italian capital’s favourite son, Francesco Totti is making news of his own, and may even make a sensational return to the international scene.

The 2006 World Cup winner has been in incredible form this season, defying his age with movement, touch and a goalscoring eye that has seen him become the second-highest Serie A marksman of all time.

His 226 league goal – a well-taken, trademark free-kick – contributed to a 2-0 victory over Parma on Sunday, and his red-hot form has attracted admiring glances from Cesare Prandelli. The forward hasn’t donned the famous Azzuri jersey since he lifted the trophy in Berlin, but with the ex-Roma coach admitting that he is “obliged” to consider Totti for selection, the Giallorossi hero has not dismissed speculation.

He said: “Prandelli’s words please me a lot. I don’t know, at the moment I am doing fine. But from here until 2014, let’s see.

“It could be the year I quit. Who knows? When Prandelli calls me up let’s see.”

Totti’s return from the international wilderness may prove to be productive, and he may well take note of the achievements by other prodigal sons after a substantial time away from the international scene...

Martin Palermo: After missing three penalties during a 3-0 defeat to Colombia in the Copa America, the Boca Juniors legend spent a decade away from the international scene. Recalled by Diego Maradona, the strong forward scored a crucial last-minute goal against Peru to aid his nation’s progress to the 2010 World Cup.

Roberto Baggio: One of the outstanding players of World Cup 1994, Baggio will always be remembered with his hands on his hips, looking down at the penalty spot. He featured rarely in the following four years in the build-up to the showpiece in France in 1998. However, with the Azzurri struggling, Cesare Maldini had little option but to offer the ‘Divine Ponytail’ another chance, which he repaid with some excellent displays and a goal in their opening World Cup match against Chile.