IN THE NEWS: Last chapter in Antonio Di Natale’s career?

FOOTBALL - After the tragic incident of Piermario Morosini’s death two weeks ago, Antonio Di Natale on behalf of Udinese and their charity ‘Udinese for Life’ showed a tremendous gesture by announcing that they will financially look after Morosini’s handicapped elder sister. Whilst some would label today’s football world as cold and cynical, there is always a heartwarming tale by this veteran striker.

Doing it in remembrance of ‘Mario’

The incident affected him so much that he was quoted saying ”last year I thought about retiring… I’ll play these last games for Mario and then we’ll see.”  So, here in this article we take a look back at the career of Antonio Di Natale after he announced that he may hang up his boots.

Humanitarian awards

Antonio Di Natale, who is well into his thirties (34 to be exact), is a versatile forward who has been at Udinese for the last 8 years. Last year in 2011, he received the “Pallone d’Argento” award which is given to the player who is measured as the most fairest and for football talent, sporting correctness, good morality and for generosity towards the weak. If the aforementioned gesture did not confirm Di Natale as a liberal gentleman, then this gives us further proof of an insight on his personality.

Goals galore

On to the players talent, Antonio Di Natale has netted a remarkable 77 league goals in 103 appearance since the start of the 2009/10 season and is the focal point of Udinese making them one of the league’s top teams. In 2009/10, he broke Oliver Bierhoff’s record of 27 league goals in a season, the following season he had a strike rate of 0.78% only bettered by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Another 20+ season

He won the Golden Boot in Serie A in the last two seasons successively and is joint third today with 20 goals to his name, only Ibrahimovic and Cavani have scored more. So why is it that with these astonishing stats proving Di Natale as a potent finisher, he hasn’t achieved as much with his nation Italy?

Last of the summer wine?

His last cap came in the 2010 World Cup and hasn’t been selected since then, however his consistent performances since then have not gone unnoticed with public calls for him to be in included in this summer’s Euro 2012. Cesare Prandelli, the coach of Italy, in my opinion would be foolish not to select Di Natale.

A final hurrah

Not only does he provide the ammunition and add flexibility to his game, he also supplies plenty of experience which may prove crucial in such a big stage. The absence of Giuseppe Rossi has also paved way for an extra slot upfront, and this might just be the best possible way for Di Natale to bow out in one of the world’s grandest stage. How more fitting would it be if he lifted the trophy this summer after the year he just had?

A matter of character

If Antonio Di Natale does decide to retire from football, he will not only be remembered as an exquisite player, but arguably even a better person. For someone who has achieved what he has in his career, breaking records and winning golden boots, he equals to it with his graceful personality (e.g. taking care of Piermario Morosini’s sister).  His talents on the pitch will surely be missed in Italy and around Europe as well as his character, how long until we see another player showing similar instincts and morality?

This article written by Abdul Ali (find him on Twitter @tikitakastyle)