03 June 2022
Happy 45th birthday to Luca Toni!An out-and-out striker who combined physical prowess with technical ability, he became a World Champion in the unforgettable summer of 2006
Thursday, May 26, 2022
Luca Toni was born in Pavullo nel Frignano on 26 May 1977. He grew up in Modena’s youth system and made his debut with the Gialloblu in the 1994/95 season in Serie C1. He didn’t burst onto the scene as a youngster; indeed, he only made his breakthrough in 1999/2000, when he scored 15 goals for Treviso in Serie B, which caught many people’s attention and earned him a move to Vicenza in Serie A. He then spent two seasons at Brescia, where he made clear his potential, before moving to Palermo, where he hit the big time. In 2003/04, he embraced the challenge of helping the Sicilians earn promotion into Serie A: he carried the Rosanero to league victory, and thus promotion, with 30 goals before then scoring 20 times the following season to lead the club to UEFA Cup qualification.
In 2005, he moved to Fiorentina and earned a call-up to the National Team. His first season at Viola turned out to be his ‘golden’ year as he won the Golden Boot with 31 league goals. However, it was on 9 July 2006 that he reached the pinnacle of any footballer’s career: lifting the World Cup to the sky in Berlin while wearing the Azzurri shirt after an epic journey that ended with the victorious final against France.
In total, he made 47 appearances and scored 16 goals for the Azzurri. Perhaps still bedazzled by this fox in the box a year after that triumph on German soil, the Bayern directors decided to bring him to Bavaria. There, he continued to score goals with great regularity and became a fan favourite, with a song even being dedicated to him.
In January 2010, he returned to Italy and almost won a sensational Scudetto with Roma, a dream that vanished late on in the season. He then moved to Genoa and later Juventus, where he scored the first goal in their new stadium in the curtain raiser against Notts County in September 2011. He went on to play in the UAE for Al-Nasr, which proved to be a brief spell. However, his career wasn’t over: before hanging up his boots for good, he returned to Italy to play for Fiorentina in 2012/13 and scored just minutes into his second debut in Florence. His final move was to newly promoted Hellas Verona, where he spent two sensational seasons, scoring 44 goals and earning the Serie A Golden Boot in 2014/15. He finally called time at the end of the 2015/16 season by scoring his 324th career goal on the final matchday against Juventus. That was no normal goal either, it was a champions’ finish: a Panenka from the spot that earned a standing ovation from the Bentegodi, who gave a true champion the send-off he deserved.