Di Natale to retire at end of season

06 January 2014 05:31

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.

Source: AFP