Late starter, goalscorer, World Cup winner – Luca Toni profile
Late starter, goalscorer, World Cup winner – Luca Toni played for FC Bayern from 2007 to 2009 and stood out thanks to a phenomenal strike rate. The World Cup winner and top scorer in the Bundesliga celebrates his 43rd birthday on Tuesday. fcbayern.com wish him a very happy birthday and we look back at his career in Munich
'Bello, bello e impossibile...' - Whenever this hit by the Italian Rock star Gianna Nannini was played at the Allianz Arena, everybody knew: Luca Toni has found the back of the net again. The striker scored 58 goals in 89 games for FC Bayern, each greeted with his unmistakable goal celebration. Following on from Giovane Élber, Claudio Pizarro and Roy Makaay, Toni seamlessly carried on the tradition of the prolific goalscorer at the record champions after the turn of the millennium.
Europe's top scorer and World Cup winner in 2006
Toni was a classic late starter in terms of professional football. He played in the lower leagues four years at a total of eight clubs before being promoted to Serie A with Palermo at the age of 23 in 2004. A year later he signed for Fiorentina where he became Europe's top goalscorer 31 goals. Uli Hoeneß first became aware of Toni in an international friendly for Germany in Florence where he had an impressive game and scored one goal in the 4-1 win for the Squadra Azzurra. Four months later he was a World Cup winner in Germany.
Part of a massive change
But it took another year before Toni joined FC Bayern – his tenth professional club in 13 years. After FCB only finished in fourth place in 2006/07, there was "a massive change" in the squad (coach Ottmar Hitzfeld). Eight players left and eight came in with Toni joined by Frank Ribéry, Miroslav Klose, Hamit Altintop and returnee Zé Roberto. "We are proud to have brought two world stars like Luca Toni and Frank Ribéry to Munich," Hoeneß said after the official presentation of the Italian World Cup winner and the French World Cup runner-up.
Ten goals in the first ten games
"Bayern have big plans for the next few years and will be one of the strongest teams. I want to be part of that," Toni said in explaining his move to Munich. "When you play for Bayern, you've reached the top." Hoeneß was asked what he expected of Toni. "Goals! Particularly with his head as that hasn't happened at all for us recently," was the demand of the Bayern general manager. And Toni immediately put those words into action. In spite of a lack of training in the pre-season due to injury, he scored ten goals in his first ten games and that included the opener on seven occasions. "I feel at home in the team and I think it will all work out."
First Bayern hat-trick since 1989
He was to be proved right as Luca Toni scored at will. He netted four goals in the 6-0 victory over Aris Saloniki in the UEFA Cup group match, and he scored all three goals in the 3-0 win at Hannover 96 in February 2008. It was the first hat-trick for a Bayern player in the Bundesliga since 1989. "The main thing is the ball comes to me and I'll do the rest," was his maxim. Both of his goals in the legendary 3-3 draw after extra time in the UEFA Cup quarter-final at FC Getafe are almost of historic value. "A phenomenon, a godsend," Hitzfeld said about his central striker who secured the top scorers canon at the end of the season with 24 goals.
League and cup double in first season
"I did hope, but never believed it possible, that he would score 35 goals in 40 games. His presence in the penalty area, I've never seen anything like it," said Hoeneß in praise of the Italian after the DFB Cup final win against Borussia Dortmund when he scored both goals in the 2-1 win after extra time. Two years after the World Cup triumph at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, his brace at the same venue secured the first title at club level and the fourteenth DFB Cup for Bayern. That was followed two weeks later by winning the Bundesliga. With his 39 goals in 46 games, *Tonigol*made a significant contribution to the double.
Injury misfortune in the second half of the 2008/09 season
In the following season under new coach Jürgen Klinsmann, Il Bomber, as Toni was now known in Italy with reference to the Bomber Gerd Müller, was initially prolific. He scored ten goals in the first half of the season including the winning goal in added time in the 2-1 victory over impressive newcomers 1899 Hoffenheim that saw the crowd at the Allianz Arena go wild. Remembered to this day, his goal celebration in the style of a pistolero. He missed seven games in the second half of the season due to an Achilles injury and was unable to repeat the impressive performances from his first season. The striker only clocked up eight goals after the winter break.
Competition for places hots up
He didn't do much better in the following season. Louis van Gaal was new coach but the problems remain the same. A problem with his Achilles prevented a decent preseason and Toni did not suit Van Gaal system that relied more on new signing Mario Gomez, Ivica Olic, Klose and rising star Thomas Müller. And the situation grew increasingly difficult for Toni when FC Bayern signed Arjen Robben just before the end of the transfer window.
Return to Italy in the winter of 2009/10
"I know this business moves on. The past doesn't count and I can live with that," said Toni before his comeback in September 2009. Shortly after that, he played two games for the record champions reserves in the third division and he returned the first team at the end of the September in the DFB Cup tie at Rot-Weiß Oberhausen. But he hardly appeared in the following months with just eight appearances and one goal representing a modest return up to the winter break.
Never lost contact with Munich
He returned to Italy in the New Year to join AS Roma on loan. The following summer he ended his contract with FC Bayern that was due to run to 2011. He continued to be a rolling stone in the following years. Juventus, Al Nasr in Kuwait, Fiorentina and Hellas Verona were his other clubs before he ended his career in 2016. But he has never lost contact with Munich and Toni continues to play for the FC Bayern Legends. The only thing missing is Gianna Nannini's song when he scores.
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