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Luca Toni: Thanks For The Memories

First player to move on this summer is Luca Toni. A tribute...

Tullio M. Puglia

The Early Years

Luca Toni was born in May 1977 in Pavullo nel Frignano, a town and commune in the province of Modena, in the Modenese Apeninnes. He joined the Modena Youth squad at age 13 and spent the next 3 years developing his talent before moving to the senior squad in 1994.

He spent two seasons in Modena, getting 32 appearances and 7 goals, but moved onto Empoli in 1996.

After failing to break into the lineup at Empoli he moved from club to club in Serie B and C1, including Fiorenzuola, Lodigiani and finally, Treviso, before landing his first Serie A gig, at Vicenza.

In Vicenza, he got 31 appearances, scoring 9 goals, but moved on the next year to Bresica, playing next to Roberto Baggio and Pep Guardiola. Toni played 2 seasons in Brescia, with 44 appearances and 15 goals.

In 2003, Toni agreed to go back to Serie B to play with Palermo, who were making a strong push for promotion. Toni scored 30 goals in his first season in Pink, setting a Palermo record, and was a main factor in bringing the Rosanero back to top flight competition for the first time in over 30 years.

This performance also earned Toni his first National cap. Toni would go on to appear 46 more times, with 16 goals.

The 2004 season saw Palermo back in Serie A they finished 6th in the league with 13 wins, 13 draws and 12 losses and a respectable total of 52 points and qualified for their first UEFA Cup in club history.

Palermo would win their first round match up and win their group, as well as their round of 32 match up with Slavia Prague, but would give up 3 goals in Germany and bow out in the round of 16 to Schalke 04, but would do so without one, Luca Toni.

Fiorentina: First Time Around

In Summer of 2005, The Delle Valle's brought in Pantaleo Corvino, who brought coach Cesare Prandelli to Firenze. Amongst their first purchases was Luca Toni for 10 million Euros. Palermo Fans were quite bitter over the move, declaring Toni a traitor and bad blood was to remain between the two factions for some time.

The bad feelings did little to distract Toni, however, as he went on to score 31 goals, the most goals scored at that time for 50 years and only 4 short of the all time record of 35. The feat earned him The European Golden Shoe(Boot), and earned Fiorentina4th place in the league and a place in the Champion's League.

Ironically enough, events were to happen which would see Palermo fans get some satisfaction back as Calciopoli exploded in July of 2006. Fiorentina originally were relegate to Serie B and were to have 12 points deducted for that season in Serie B.Palermo were to wind up 5th and go to the UEFA Cup again as Juventus, Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio all received penalties.

Luca Toni immediately began to express his displeasure of the situation and frequently expressed a desire to leave the squad, but, upon appeals, Fiorentina were reinstated in Serie A, albeit with a 19 point deduction penalty, which was laer lowered to 15 points, and that fact, coupled with appeals from ADV managed to convince Toni to stay one more season.

Also in the Summer, Toni made his first appearance in a World Cup for Italy, scoring a brace in the quarter-finals against Ukraine, along with hiting the crossbar and having a goal disallowed against France in the Final.

Perhaps because of the tumult and the energy expenditure and wear and tear of a World Cup campaign, Toni's 2006-2007 campaign was marred with injuries and the striker only managed to net 16 goals. Even without the scoring output and despite the point deduction, Fiorentina finished 5th and qualified for the UEFA Cup.

The lesser competition and a desire to play for a larger club finally pushed Toni over the edge and he asked the squad for a transfer. He promised ADV not to play for another Italian squad and a deal was made to send him to Bayern Munich

Post Viola

Toni had a very prolific first season at Bayern, scoring a combined 34 goals, 8 of which were in the UEFA Cup and 2 in the German Cup final, including the game winner in extra time.

His second season started much as the first, netting 9 goals in 13 league matches before injuring an Achilles heel, which would plague him for much of the second half of the season. Toni would still wind up the leading scorer for Bayern with 14.

Still battling his injury, Toni made two appearances for the reserve team, but stormed off the field and out of the stadium after being subbed for at halftime. After his antics and all out feud with Coach Louis v,an Gaal, he was loaned to Roma for the rest of the season.

At Roma he got in 15 matches and scored 5 goals.

After his loan stint and continued disagreement with Bayern's staff the German squad terminated his contract and Toni left Germany in Summer of 2010.

After one year stints with Genoa and Juventus that did not revive his career he settled for a lucrative contract in the Emirates for Al Nasr.

The Return

On August 31, 2012, in a last second signing, Fiorentina announced the signing of Luca Toni, bringing his career full circle and bringing back to the place of his greatest personal glory.

Toni was not to disappoint the Viola faithful. In week three, against Catania, Toni scored his first goal mere seconds after stepping on the pitch, on his first touch of the match:

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Toni would go on to be the third leading scorer for La Viola this season, scoring 8 goals, including:

Siena, a 4-1 victory
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Parma, a 2-0 victory
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a big win against Lazio 2-0
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Cagliari, a 4-1 Victory and Toni's 50th Fiorentina Goal
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and Luca Toni's last goal in Fiorentina's Viola kit, a victory against Palermo 1-0
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In Conclusion,

Luca Toni has led a long and prolific career, with lots og goals and lots of stops at many towns and cities along the way. He came into Fiorentina labelled a traitor by Sicilian fans and left Firenze labelled a mercenary by many of the Viola faithful after he left, but no one can deny the impact he has had to this team, not only in his first visit, but also in his his last.

I admit to being one who thought Toni a mercenary, and an old washed up one at that, and I never imagined he could have any worth to this squad, but Toni took on this season with an excellent work ethic, and though at times I despaired at his inaccuracies, he still managed to score a goal for every 2 shots he got on net, better than both Joveitc and Ljajic.

So, as Luca Toni rides off to parts unknown, I find myself glad for the season and for his participation and wish him nothing but good things to come.

And who knows, maybe there's a place for Luca in the organization after Calcio....

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