Antonio Di Natale is now 35, but his form has not slowed down as he is currently the highest Italian scorer in Serie A with 23 goals this season, and only second overall to Edinson Cavani of Napoli.
He is a figure who never shown at international level when he perhaps should have, with his Italy career highlight is that wonderful goal against Spain in the group stages of EURO 2012.
For someone of his calibre and pedigree, the pinnacle of his Italy career should be more than just one fantastic goal.
But many top players have failed to perform for their country as well as they do for their club, like Francesco Totti, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Thierry Henry and of course Lionel Messi.
But what he has not done for Italy, he has most certainly made up for it with consistently being one of the best strikers in the world for a little club like Udinese.
He is just as comfortable with tapping in from three yards as he is from unleashing thunderbolts from 30 yards out, and is also deserving of the title as a free-kick specialist.
With 182 Serie A goals for Udinese, he is their highest ever goal scorer and also the second highest ever scorer in Serie A that is still active. With 100 goals coming in his last four seasons in all competitions, the only two players in European football with more are Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, while only Messi has greater shots to goal percentage.
As he does not play for a top club and has only played Champions League football in one season before, back in 2004/05, he is often over-looked, when he shouldn’t be, but since he is not a big name, that is unlikely to change. Could Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi even make it in Serie A, never mind Udinese? It is doubtful.
His loyalty to such a small club when bigger teams like Barcelona and Juventus have offered for him is just another of the many reasons to respect him, as he clearly cares more about his club and football more than money.
Here’s to Antonio Di Natale, one of football’s unsung hero’s.
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