Udinese appoint legend Di Natale as player-manager
Di Natale has enjoyed a illustrious time at Udinese, featuring 339 times in his 10 year spell
Udinese have released a statement confirming the selection of club icon Antonio Di Natale as player-manager for the upcoming season. Speculation was rife regarding the replacement for the late Andrea Stramaccioni, with assistant manager, Dejan Stankovic the bookmaker’s favourite up to this point. Di Natale himself announced his retirement from his playing career last season, but rescinded that later, and announced that he would continue playing for this campaign.
Di Natale began him career at Serie B outfit Empoli, and soon attracted lots of attention, after scoring 16 times in their promotion push. This led to his moving to Udiense for a meagre 69K. At the age of 27, many doubted his ability in his prime, as he failed to net over 10 goals in his first two seasons despite being the club’s first choice striker. However, as soon as he hit the age of 30, when many would decline, Di Natale became extremely deadly. From 2009 to 2014 he remarkably scored 120 times, and won many accolades during this period, including Italian Player of the Year, Runner Up of the European Golden Shoe, and most astonishingly, his 17 goals last season saw him overtake the likes of Gabriel Batistuta and Allessandro Del Piero to rise to 7th in the all time Serie A top goal-scorers chart.
Udinese chairman, Franco Soldati has shown his public support for Di Natale, saying ‘I am very pleased for Antonio, he is one of the club’s greatest and most loyal players, and I am sure he can carry over his winning mentality into his new role.’ Many Udinese fans will be worried about whether they will continue to see Di Natale on the pitch as often, but assistant manager Dejan Stankovic is rumoured to be taking an increased role, allowing Di Natale to continue to play regularly.
The 37 year old has also spoken to the media this hour, releasing this statement.
'I am extremely grateful to be given a chance to manage the club I have loved for so long at the beginning of my managerial career. I promise to the fans I will take on this role with the same passion, enthusiasm and drive that has led me to this point in my career. I am extremely confident in the coaching staff and players already at the club, most of whom I have known for a very long time, and with their support I believe we can have an extremely successful season.’