Growing up with Serie A on my TV just about every other Sunday, seeing you twirl your hand around your ear in celebration was a staple of my childhood. While I can’t say I remember your fifty goals for Palermo as I was only 8, your stint with Fiorentina is what really got me into the league. As a ten-year-old, I remember clearly asking for your jersey for Christmas when my fascination for Serie A was just at its infancy. When I got it, I would often wear it at the park with friends. The only difference was that I had to keep the balls out of the net. That was quite the sight: A young keeper with a Luca Toni jersey on. But I wore it anyways.
You’ll never really know just how important you were in my experience as a football fan. When you transferred to Bayern Munich, I couldn’t hide my disappointment. One of my favourite players was going to the German league. I couldn’t fathom it at the time, to be honest. When you returned a few seasons later with a league title and a further 38 goals to your name, it was like the homecoming of a hero for me. The best part in all this was that you always played for the other team.
Only once, well fourteen times, did you play for my team but that didn’t change anything. Unless you played against “me”, I had a smile on my face when you would score. It was truly weird and to this day, I can’t explain it. But I know I’m not the only one that feels this way. Serie A fans were genuinely happy every time you would find the back of the net provided it wasn’t against their team. My only explanation for this is that the sight of a lanky, 6’4 striker scoring with a huge smile on his face makes people happy. The feeling for most Serie A fans is: “How can you hate Luca?” You just can’t.
When your forces began to wane and you were moving from team to team, I thought I lost another one of my childhood heroes to age. Fortunately, you proved me wrong. Your time with Hellas Verona was and is still astounding. I mean, how many strikers do you know can win the capocannoniere title in 2006 and come back and win it nearly ten years later at the age of 37? Only one and it’s you.
And how can I forget your brace against Ukraine in the 2006 World Cup? This was the first major tournament that I recall and once again, you were there. Had the refs not incorrectly disallowed your game-winning goal in the final, your name would forever be etched in history. Nonetheless, you still brought home the world’s biggest prize and will forever be part of that legendary group of Italian players and Zaccardo.
As I write this with my – now extremely tiny – jersey of you draped over my shoulders, the reality that this will be your last season is sinking in more and more. I genuinely can’t imagine a Sunday without you popping up on my TV screen following the RAI’s squilli di tromba. (goal horn) What’s more terrifying is that there is no clear successor to pick up where you will eventually leave off. But I guess that makes sense because, let’s face it, there’s only one Luca Toni.
Arrivederci bomber e grazie di tutto,
Just another fan.
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Originally posted on Serie A Scouted. Read more blogs here