Rome’s Totti mural defaced

The historic mural depicting AS Roma captain Francesco Totti in Rome's central Monti district has been destroyed, leading to a storm of protest on social network sites.

The mural, located in a tiny alcove off Via della Madonna dei Monti, was defaced with a black spray that covered the upper part of the design including Totti’s head and jersey.

The iconic image celebrated the local football hero's joy after scoring a goal in 2001 that led to AS Roma winning the Serie A football championship, popularly known as the scudetto.

It was painted in the immediate aftermath of Rome's victory during a wave of hysteria that saw many of the capital's walls, shop fronts, doors and even streets painted with the AS Roma colours.

Roma fans have described the act as "sacrilege" and hope the mural can be restored, while the vandalism has also elicited disapproval from football fans across the spectrum.

The much-photographed image was seen as a place of pilgrimage for fans of both Totti and AS Roma, and was a well-known landmark in the area.