Antonio Di Natale
Antonio Di Natale (born 13 October 1977 in Naples) is an Italian footballer who plays for Serie A club Udinese.
A versatile striker, Di Natale can play anywhere in the front line, as a lone striker or out wide in a 3-pronged attack but is most effective when played as an out-and-out striker. He is notable for his dribbling skills, pace and for his ability to score and create goals.
Though born in Naples, Di Natale moved up north and joined Empoli’s youth system. He impressed while playing for the Tuscany side in Serie A and even received his first Azzurri call-up. He was awarded a contract extension. When Empoli was relegated he moved to Udinese.
After having joined Udinese in the 2004–05 Serie A season, Di Natale partnered with Vincenzo Iaquinta and David Di Michele in attack, and the Friulian club finished 4th place at the end of the season and qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the following year. Di Natale finished his debut season with a record of 33 games and seven goals.
In the 2007–08 season, Di Natale scored 17 goals. The two most notable goals were scored on matchday 4, when Udinese played against Reggina. He made a zero-degree lob in the 5th minute and scored a terrific volley in the 63rd. Forming a formidable attacking duo with Fabio Quagliarella, Di Natale improved his aggressiveness and stealth. In 2007, he was named captain of Udinese and his contract was extended to 30 June 2012.
15 May 2010 saw the conclusion of Di Natale’s best-ever season, scoring 29 goals in Serie A, including hat-tricks against Catania and Napoli. He also surpassed Oliver Bierhoff’s club record for most league goals in a season, who had scored 28. A brace against Bari on 9 May 2010 saw Di Natale surpass the 100 goal mark in Serie A. On 14 November 2010, he scored a hat-trick during a match with Udinese against Lecce and on 28 November 2010, he scored a second consecutive home hat-trick during a match against Napoli.
Di Natale made his senior debut in late November 2002 against Turkey while Giovanni Trapattoni was still in charge of the national team. He won a few caps in later years though only participated in friendly games.
In 2006 he regained a spot with the Azzurri, under new coach Roberto Donadoni, and was involved in the Euro 2008 qualification campaign. Di Natale netted a goal in each half, setting Italy en route to a hard-fought win over Ukraine in a qualifying match. He was then called up to Italy’s squad for UEFA Euro 2008 where he missed a crucial penalty during a quarter final penalty shoot out against Spain who went on to win 4–2.
The next season, after a knee injury against Montenegro on 28 March 2009, Di Natale missed the 2009 Confederations Cup. In November, he captained the team for the first time and his good form earned him a call-up for the 2010 FIFA World Cup where he was given the number 10 shirt. On 24 June, he scored his first world cup goal against Slovakia at South Africa World Cup 2010, the game ended 3–2 to Slovakia with Italy finishing bottom of Group F.
Di Natale has a son, named Filippo and two daughters Alyssa and Angelina. He has a tattoo of his son’s name down his right arm, and a tattoo of his daughter’s name on the left. Most fans refer to him by the nickname Totò, a shortening of Antonio which is common use in Di Natale’s native Southern Italy.
Serie A Top Scorer: 2010
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