Antonio Di Natale
Di Natale pictured in 2012
|Full name||Antonio Di Natale|
|Date of birth||13 October 1977|
|Place of birth||Naples, Italy|
|Height||1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)|
|1997–1998||→ Iperzola (loan)||33||(6)|
|1998||→ Varese (loan)||5||(0)|
|1998–1999||→ Viareggio (loan)||25||(12)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 19 May 2013.
† Appearances (Goals).
A versatile striker with a lethal eye for goal, Di Natale can play anywhere in the front line, as a lone striker, or out wide in an attacking trident. He is notable for his technical skills and for his ability to score and create goals. Di Natale earned the prestigious award of being the Serie A Capocannoniere — Serie A's highest goalscorer — for the 2009–10 and 2010–11 seasons.
Unusually for a striker, he has enjoyed his most prolific seasons in front of goal well after the age of thirty.
Also known as Totò, Di Natale was born in Naples on 13 October 1977 to Salvatore, a professional painter, and Giovanna. He has two brothers, Paolo and Carmine, and two sisters, Michela and Anna. While playing for Empoli, at the age of 19, Di Natale met his future wife, Ilenia Betti, whom he married on 15 June 2002; the couple have two sons together, Filippo and Diletta. In August 2010, he rejected a transfer to Italian giants Juventus because his children had grown up in Udine and his family was settled and enjoyed living there.
Di Natale took financial responsibility of the disabled sister of Udinese teammate Piermario Morosini, who died on 14 April 2012 when he suffered sudden cardiac arrest while playing on loan for Livorno. Morosini's death left his sister with no other living relatives.
Despite being born in Naples, Antonio Di Natale made the move north for his footballing career, joining Empoli's youth system. While at Empoli, he was loaned out three times, enjoying success with Viareggio in the 1998–99 campaign, where he scored 12 goals in 25 games for the Tuscan side. Upon his return to his parent club, Di Natale finally made his breakthrough into the first team squad and established himself as an integral member of the side. He netted six times in 25 appearances for Empoli during the 1999–2000 campaign, as Empoli finished in ninth place in Serie B.
Empoli won promotion to the Serie A in 2002, finishing in fourth place on 67 points. They finished with 60 goals, the largest tally in the competition, and Di Natale finished as the club's top goalscorer with 16 league goals. In Empoli's first season back in the topflight, Di Natale helped the club fight off relegation by netting 13 times in the league. This included a hat-trick in Empoli's 4–2 defeat of Reggina on 17 November 2002. Following two seasons in the Serie A, Empoli were relegated back to the Serie B at the end of the 2003–04 campaign.
After Empoli were relegated, Di Natale joined Udinese for the 2004–05 Serie A season, along with Manuel Belleri and Emílson Cribari. In Udine, Di Natale partnered with Vincenzo Iaquinta and David Di Michele in attack, and the Friulian club finished fourth place at the end of the season and qualified for the Champions League for the following year. In his debut season with Udinese, Di Natale played 33 games and scored 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 scored a brilliant lob in the fifth minute and a terrific volley in the 63rd with his "weaker" left foot. Forming a formidable attacking duo with Fabio Quagliarella, Di Natale improved his goal tally, becoming the focal point of the attack. In 2007, he was named captain of Udinese and his contract was extended to 30 June 2012.
May 2010 saw the conclusion of Di Natale's best-ever season, scoring 29 goals in Serie A, and contributing 54% of Udinese's total goals. 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. For his performances, Di Natale was voted Italian Footballer of the Year and finished as the top scorer in Serie A. He also received the Serie A Fair Play award for interrupting play in a match while Lazio's Libor Kozák was injured, with Udinese down 3–2 late in the game. The 2009–10 season saw Di Natale finish as runner-up for the European Golden Shoe with Chelsea striker Didier Drogba on 29 goals, five behind FC Barcelona forward Lionel Messi.
On 14 November 2010, Di Natale scored a hat-trick during a match against Lecce and on 28 November, he scored a second consecutive home hat-trick during a match against hometown club Napoli. On 8 May 2011, Di Natale struck two first half goals to give Udinese a 2–1 victory over Lazio and into fourth place with two games remaining to play. Despite Di Natale missing a late penalty, with a 0–0 draw against champions Milan on the final day, Udinese secured fourth place and a spot in the playoff round of the Champions League. During the 2010–11 season, Di Natale had the best strike rate of any player in Italy, scoring 28 goals in 36 games with a strike rate of 0.78 goals per game. This was also the third best strike rate in Europe, behind Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Barça's Lionel Messi.
On 23 October 2011, Di Natale netted a brace in a 3–0 defeat of Novara, which sent Udinese to the top of the Serie A standings. On 13 May 2012, Di Natale opened the scoring against Catania on the final matchday of the Serie A season and Diego Fabbrini added a second-half strike to secure four straight Serie A victories and ensure Udinese a place in next season's Champions League qualifying round. On 4 July 2012 he signed a new 2-year contract with the club.
Di Natale's first goal of the 2012–13 season came on 16 September 2012 when he scored Udinese's second goal within five minutes of the start of the game, but a red card to Andrea Lazzari and two lates goals from Siena condemned Udinese to a 2–2 draw. On 6 January 2013, Di Natale notched a brace as Udinese downed 10-man Internazionale 3–0, lifting Udinese to eighth in the table. In Udinese's next league match, on 13 January, Di Natale scored two more goals as his side defeated Fiorentina 3–1 to extend their streak of five unbeaten Serie A matches. Di Natale scored his 150th Serie A goal for Udinese on 3 March, converting from close range after a cross from Luis Muriel, securing a 0–1 victory at Pescara. In a league match against Chievo on 7 April, Di Natale scored a sublime volley which beared a striking resemblance to the one Francesco Totti netted against Sampdoria and voted as goal of the season in 2006.
His last goal of the 2012–13 campaign came on the final matchday, on 19 May 2013, scoring Udinese's winning goal in a 5–2 thrashing of Internazionale, confirming the club's place in the UEFA Europa League for the following season.
After Udinese's 3–1 loss to Hellas Verona on January 6, 2014, Di Natale told Sky Sports Italia he would retire at the end of the 2013–14 season. "I have already decided, in June I'll stop playing football. It's already established."
Di Natale made his debut with the Italian national team on 20 November 2002 in a friendly match against Turkey. He won few caps in later years, scoring his first goal on 18 February 2004 in a friendly match against the Czech Republic, a game which ended in a 2–2 draw.
In 2006, Di Natale regained a spot with the Azzurri under new coach Roberto Donadoni and was involved in the Euro 2008 qualification campaign. He was then called up to UEFA Euro 2008, where he missed a crucial penalty during the quarter-final penalty shoot-out against Spain, who went on to win 4–2 on penalties and later the entire tournament. He missed the 2009 Confederations Cup because of a knee injury, which occurred on 28 March 2009 in an international match against Montenegro.
2010 World Cup
Di Natale took part at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where he was given the number 10 shirt. Italy was placed into Group F at the finals, drawing their first two group games by a score of 1–1 to Paraguay and New Zealand, respectively. In their final group game on 24 June 2010, he scored a goal in the 3–2 defeat against Slovakia, which resulted in Italy finishing bottom of its group.
In 2012, Di Natale was included in the squad for UEFA Euro 2012, and after coming on in the first match against Spain, he scored the opening goal in a 1–1 draw, shooting right-footed past Iker Casillas after a pass from Andrea Pirlo. It was the only goal that Spain conceded during the whole tournament. Italy reached the final of the tournament on 1 July at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, when they lost to Spain 4–0.
Following the tournament, Di Natale retired from international football with 11 goals scored from 42 games for the Azzurri.
- Scores and results list Italy's goal tally first.
|1.||18 February 2004||Stadio Renzo Barbera, Palermo||Czech Republic||2–1||2–2||Friendly|
|2.||15 November 2006||Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia, Bergamo||Turkey||1–0||1–1||Friendly|
|3.||22 August 2007||Ferenc Puskás Stadium, Budapest||Hungary||1–0||1–3||Friendly|
|4.||12 September 2007||Olympic Stadium, Kiev||Ukraine||1–0||2–1||Euro 2008 qualifier|
|6.||30 May 2008||Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence||Belgium||1–0||3–1||Friendly|
|8.||6 September 2008||Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium, Larnaca||Cyprus||1–0||2–1||2010 World Cup qualifier|
|10.||24 June 2010||Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg||Slovakia||1–2||2–3||2010 World Cup|
|11.||10 June 2012||PGE Arena Gdańsk, Gdańsk||Spain||1–0||1–1||Euro 2012|
- As of 8 March 2014
- Serie A Top Scorer (2): 2010, 2011
- Italian Footballer of the Year: 2010
- Pallone d'Argento: 2011
- Serie A Team of the Year (3): 2010–11, 2011–12, 2012–13
- "FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 – List of Players" (PDF). Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). Retrieved 5 June 2013.
- "Italy – Serie A Top Scorers". RSSSF. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- "Prandelli lauds Di Natale impact". FIFA. Agence France-Presse. 11 June 2012. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
- "I baby vip azzurri!" (in Italian). Leiweb. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- "Di Natale: 'Juve? No, grazie'". Calcio Mercato. 26 May 2012.
- "Udinese captain Antonio Di Natale to look after disabled sister of Piermario Morosini following player's death". Telegraph. 16 April 2012.
- "Serie B TIM 2001–02". Lega Serie B. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- "Serie A TIM 2002–03". Lega Serie A. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- "Empoli 4–2 Reggina". ESPNFC. 17 November 2002.
- "Serie A TIM 2003–04". Lega Serie A. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- "Serie A 2004–05". Lega Serie A. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- Graeme Bailey (29 July 2007). "Di Natale signs on". Sky Sports. Retrieved 2010-04-09.
- "CALCIO, UDINESE: IN QUATTRO RINNOVANO FINO AL 2012". la Repubblica (in Italian). 12 October 2007. Retrieved 2010-04-09.
- "Serie A Statistics 2010 Season". WhoScored.com.
- Udinese.it – Antonio Di Natale awarded Best Italian Player 2009/2010
- "Golden Boot ("Soulier d'Or") Awards". RSSSF. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- "European Golden Shoe". European Sports Magazine. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- "Di Natale treble downs Lecce". FIFA. 14 November 2010.
- "Serie A Round-Up: Antonio Di Natale Bags A Hat-Trick To Take Down Napoli". Goal. 28 November 2010.
- "Di Natale at the double". ESPNFC. 8 May 2011.
- "Udinese 0–0 AC Milan". ESPNFC. 22 May 2010.
- "The Golden Shoe and Espadrille". Soccer AM. 25 May 2011. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
- "Udinese 3–0 Novara". ESPNFC. 23 October 2011.
- "Catania 0–2 Udinese". ESPNFC. 13 May 2012.
- "Eterno Capitano bianconero: Di Natale rinnova fino al 2014!" (in Italian). Udinese Calcio. 4 July 2012. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
- "Siena 2–2 Udinese". ESPNFC. 16 September 2012.
- "Di Natale downs 10-man Inter". ESPNFC. 6 January 2013.
- "Serie A Round 20 Results: Lazio & Napoli keep up pressure as Roma & Fiorentina suffer away-day misery". Goal. 13 January 2013.
- "US Pescara 0-1 Udinese". ESPNFC. 3 March 2013.
- "Antonio Di Natale scores Totti-esque volley vs Chievo". inside World Soccer. 8 April 2013.
- "Inter slump yet further". ESPNFC. 19 May 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- "Di Natale announces his retirement from football". Goal.com. 6 January 2014. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
- "ITALY 2 – 2 CZECH REPUBLIC". SoccerWay. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
- "Casillas' saves put Spain in semis". UEFA. 22 June 2008.
- "Antonio DI NATALE". FIFA. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
- "World Cup 2010: Italy exit as Slovakia turf out reigning champions". The Guardian. 24 June 2010.
- "Spain 1–1 Italy". BBC Sport. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
- "Spain 4 Italy 0: Silva, Alba, Torres and Mata the heroes as La Roja create history in Kiev". Daily Mail. 1 July 2012.
- "Di Natale: "I did think about retiring I'm not going to Euro 2012 to be on holiday"". La Gazzetta dello Sport. 22 May 2012.
- "Antonio Di Natale – Goals in International Matches". RSSSF. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- Includes Coppa Italia
- Counts for appearances and goals at the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup, UEFA Super Cup and UEFA Intertoto Cup. Including qualifying games.