Italy coach Marcello Lippi has spoken out in defence of Francesco Totti.

The Roma captain has seen his reputation tainted since being banned at Euro 2004 for spitting at an opponent. But Lippi believes the player has been treated harshly.

“Totti would have had to forget what happened in Euro 2004 even if he had won the trophy,” said Lippi.

“He is a player in this new Italy squad and has great enthusiasm, but he does not deserve such scant international recognition.

“I don’t want to cause controversy, but I get the feeling that in Europe there is an unjustified antipathy towards Totti for what happened in Portugal.

“We must do everything to help him and he has to help himself to try and change people’s opinion on him.”