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Di Natale could play on after Udinese exit

Veteran Italian forward Antonio Di Natale has refused to rule out continuing his playing career after his final game for Udinese on Sunday.  

The 38-year-old, who is currently ranked sixth on the all-time Serie A top scorers list with 208 league goals, will draw the curtain on 12 years at Udinese after Sunday’s fixture at home to Carpi.

Di Natale hopes to play in the second half of the game after an injury-hit campaign which has seen him limited to 12 league starts, scoring just once.

“I’ll decide on my future after the holidays. I want to give it some thought. I have a great relationship with Udine,” Di Natale said.

“Udine has given me so much. I’m grateful for the way this city has treated me and I’m very happy here.

“I want to applaud our fans. They’ve always been exceptional.”

He added: “I went close to winning the Coppa Italia twice, unfortunately without achieving it, but I am happy with my career anyway.

“The worst memory of this experience was the current campaign, as we’ve never struggled this much. The most wonderful is the victory at Catania, as when we returned to Udine there were so many people waiting to greet us.”

The prolific striker, who also grabbed 11 goals for Italy in 42 appearances, had hoped to catch Giuseppe Meazza and Jose Altafini in joint fourth place on the all-time Serie A scorers list, but will fall short of their 216 strikes if he fails to sign for another Italian club.

He said: “Sadly I didn’t manage to hit 216 goals this year but I’m still happy with everything I’ve achieved.”

Udinese owner Giampaolo Pozzo paid tribute to Di Natale’s legacy, commenting: “Di Natale has been a decisive player who’s scored so many key goals for us. He’s world class in every sense.

“We haven’t thought about retiring the number 10 shirt but it’s something we could consider.”

Sat 14 May, 2016
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