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It's all about motivation: Luca Toni's comeback
When a player signs for a Dubai club, it seems that his career has ended. But the World Champions 2006 doesn't give in and now has a mission: save Hellas Verona from the relegation
by Claudio Di Sanza
When he signed the contract with the new ambitious Vincenzo Montella’s Fiorentina, in the very last day of the past market session, many journalists and experts believed Luca Toni to be at the final step of his long career. They are strongly doubting that he could have repeated the beautiful seasons spent in Florence in 2006 and 2007 (47 goals in 67 caps), because of his last period, around the world (Torino, Genova and Dubai) that was blessed by a few goals and many unconvincing matches. Everybody was looking at him as the experienced striker with low motivations who was looking for the last rich contract of his career.

Less than one year later, after a great season with la Viola (8 goals scored in 27 caps), we find him leading Hellas Verona football team towards an unexpected victory against Milan in the first match of Serie A 2013-14. What happened in between?

A few months ago he kindly declined the possibility offered by Fiorentina of a one year extension as a substitute for Mario Gomez, making clear to everybody his rediscovered motivation and willingness to play with consistency. And this motivation led him to sign for Hellas Verona, resulting to be the top scorer of the team during summer’s friendly matches as well as during the official matches of TIM cup and Serie A (3 goals, 2 caps).

Luca Toni approached Serie A later than other colleagues, at age 23, having the peak of his career between 2003 and 2009, when he collectively scored 109 goals in 172 caps, won a World cup with Italy in 2006, a Bundesliga with Bayern Munchen in 2008 and resulted to be the European top scorer in 2006 (golden shoe award). Subsequently, even dued to a sudden decrease in the quality of his playing, he was relegated to the second team of Bayern and he was afterwards loaned to Roma for one year.

During this period and in the following years, everybody believed that it was the “beginning of the end” for “Lucone”'s career, This especially after the transfers to Genoa (2010) and Juventus (2011), when he was uncapable of scoring anymore the huge amount of goals which characterized the first part of his career and he was excluded from Italy national team. After Juventus, in 2012 he left for Dubai to play with Al-Nasr but in June of the same year his first son was stillborn, throwing Luca Toni into a dramatic period of desperation, when he also considered the possibility to quit playing. But this dramatic event was the driving force that allowed him to find new motivations and only 3 months later, he signed for Fiorentina.

Florence repaid Luca Toni’s choice with love and support, allowing him to remind to everyone that he is yet to be retired. June 2013 was a key month for him, in fact his first daughter, Bianca, was born and the new contract with Verona was signed. During the summer, he played in Verona’s rooster with great motivation and serenity and according to interviews released to the Italian press, he is playing with less pressure, he doesn’t care about the money and he set the aim for the current season towards reaching the impressive number of 300 goals scored (he is now at 275 goals). Not bad for his second childhood.

Now, approaching the new Serie A season, all Verona supporters claim Luca Toni to be the real top player of their team and they are ready to bet that he will reach his aim and make them enjoy throughout the season.

Sunday, December 22 nd, 2013
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