Antonio Di Natale scored his 200th Italian Serie A goal on what was his 400th league appearance on Sunday when he gave Udinese a 1-0 half-time lead against Chievo. Di Natale last season went back on his decision to retire and started this campaign determined to match the 205-goal tally of Italian great Roberto Baggio, who is sixth on Serie A’s all-time list of top scorers.
The current record is held by Silvio Piola, who retired in 1954 with 274 league goals. With 237 goals, Roma playmaker Francesco Totti is the top active goalscorer in the league. Despite playing for Udinese, a club that has neither won the Italian league or Cup, Di Natale has won Serie A’s Capocannoniere top-scorer award two years in succession. In 2010 he scored 29 league goals to leave Inter’s Diego Milito (22) a distant second and then hit the net 28 times to leave Uruguayan Edinson Cavani, then of Napoli, second by just two goals.
Di Natale took his personal haul to 300 goals against Chievo, a total that includes 182 efforts in 339 Serie A games for Udinese and 11 in 42 appearances for Italy.
That overall figure put him seventh on the list of Italy’s most prolific players throughout history, behind Silvio Piola (390), Alessandro Del Piero (345), Giuseppe Meazza (338), Roberto Baggio (318), Filippo Inzaghi (316) and Francesco Totti (306). Di Natale has twice finished top of the Serie A scoring charts, hitting 29 goals in 2009/10 and 28 in 2010/11, and he was voted Italian player of the year in 2010.
What makes his Serie A tally all the more remarkable, meanwhile, is that the Naples native has plundered each of his goals in the space of just 12 seasons, having made his top-flight debut two months short of his 25th birthday.
Di Natale came close to hanging up his boots altogether at the end of last season. He ultimately decided not to retire and has been rewarded handsomely for his dedication, notching seven strikes in 12 Serie A games to put himself on course for a total of ten goals or more for the tenth consecutive campaign.