Antonio Di Natale to retire at end of season

Updated: 06 January 2014 23:35 IST

Despite playing at a club that has enjoyed little domestic success, Antonio Di Natale has been considered one of Italy's most lethal strikers in recent years.

Antonio Di Natale to retire at end of season

Milan:

Udinese striker Antonio Di Natale said he will retire at the end of the season, bringing an end to a career which has seen him top Serie A's scoring charts on two occasions.

In their first league outing of 2014, Udinese suffered a 3-1 defeat at home to Verona and Di Natale said post-match he intends to call it quits at the end of the campaign. "I've spoken to my family, and now I will speak to the club about it," said the 36-year-old Naples-born player.

The news could not have come at a worse time for Udinese, who after a fifth place finish last season and a bright start to this campaign have dropped to 13th.

Informed of the news, Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin told reporters: "I don't know what to say. I didn't know."

Despite playing at a club that has enjoyed little domestic success, Di Natale has been considered one of Italy's most lethal strikers in recent years.

He finished top scorer in the 2009-2010 Serie A season, prompting an offer to join Juventus which he refused because his children were in school and well settled in the northern town of Udine.

It also earned Di Natale a place at Italy's disastrous 2010 World Cup, where he scored in a 3-2 defeat to Slovakia which left Italy bottom of their group and sealed their first round exit.

Di Natale also finished top scorer in 2010-2011, two goals ahead of Napoli's Edinson Cavani and seven ahead of Inter striker Samuel Eto'o.

A season later, he finished joint third - and the first Italian - in the Serie A scoring charts to earn a place at Euro 2012, where he was the only player to score against eventual winners Spain, during a 1-1 draw. Italy went on to the final but were defeated 4-0 by Spain.

Last season Di Natale scored 23 goals to finish the season as the top-ranked Italian striker but six behind Uruguayan sensation Cavani.

Topics : Antonio Di Natale Football Italy Udinese
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