Antonio Di Natale: A shining example to Serie A


The 2004 summer transfer window was one of the most eventful in recent memory, perhaps remembered most for Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich eager to make an immediate impact in the transfer market.

However, it was also the time when, in the Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Udinese secured the signature of relegated Empoli striker Antonio Di Natale - a deal worth a reported £88,000 that raised little suspicion in the aristocratic world of Italian football. Yet over the next nine years the name Di Natale would become synonymous with the capocannoniere (the Serie A Golden Boot).

The Bianconeri's trifecta would be completed in time for 2004/05 season with the impressive attacking threats of Di Natale, David Di Michele and Vincenzo Iaquinta. The attempt to disrupt the make up of Italy's main representers in Europe's top competitions had began. 

The dream soon became a reality as a fourth-place finish was realised at the end of the season, participation in UEFA's premier competition was in their hands via a qualification process. 

In a debut season in which seen him score seven goals over the course of the season, it would only be a taste, a preview of what Udinese had possessed in the ever improving striker. 

The goal-tally of 158 goals in 298 games has seen the crucial finishers name etched into the record books at the Stadio Friuli and placing his name rightfully alongside Serie A's most prestigious names. 

A player who embodies the very essence of loyalty, the advances of Juventus where not enough to tempt Di Natale away from the club he seemingly has found a home at.

It is in these rare instances that honour and loyalty triumph capital gain and its something the purist of football fans love to see. 

"I think that what I've done with Udinese will go down in the history of the club," Di Natale told this week. "I don't see that as something insignificant."


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