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Practiced Spanish

Toni packs for home after Euro exit

Luca Toni tried as hard as a man can try for his first goal at Euro 2008, officially loosing off 14 shots at goal in Italy’s three group stage fixtures. But as has been widely reported, the man who stormed to the leading scorer crown in the Bundesliga in his very first season with Bayern failed to open his account for Italy at the continental showdown. His solitary “goal”, a first-half stoppage-time effort against Romania, was wrongly disallowed for offside.

Toni opted for the solution not infrequently favoured by goal-getters in a similar situation: he turned to the world of superstition and lucky charms, declaring he would allow a beard to grow over his normally clean-shaven features until his next goal. So it was that the rugged 31-year-old took to the field for Italy’s quarter-final meeting with Spain sporting a distinctly odd and - many of his female fans might say - somewhat unsightly moustache.

Goals dry up for Il Bomber

The appeal to the supernatural came to nothing as Toni failed to hit the target for the fourth game in a row. Nor will he get off the mark any time soon as the Italians were eliminated on penalties, a dour tactical battle with the Spanish ending goalless after extra time. The last eight at the European championships in Austria and Switzerland has proved the end of the road for Luca Toni, known to the Italian and German press as Il Bomber.

“He texted me to say his best friend was the ball but it wasn’t doing what he wanted it to do,“ Miroslav Klose reported at the weekend, revealing that the Munich strike duo had been in regular touch by text message in recent days. The pair made a bet before the tournament as to which of them would score more goals at the Euro, with a slap-up dinner for the winner paid for by the loser.

Klose surveying menus

Klose, who scored Germany’s second in a 3-2 quarter-final triumph against Portugal, will now be thumbing the Munich gastronomic press for a suitable venue, whereas Toni finds himself preparing to make the acquaintance of new Bayern boss Jürgen Klismann a little earlier than he would have liked. The players in action at the Euro receive three weeks’ summer vacation from the day their teams are eliminated. Toni will report back to the Säbener Strasse on or around 15 July, when Klose will still be away on holiday.