Monday, September 5, 2005

Player Focus

Christian Vieri

An unsettled Bobo on his way to new glory.
Or the bench.

A prolific and physically powerful center forward, Christian Vieri boasts an accurate left foot and a distinguished fighting spirit. After six seasons rich in goals and somewhat poor in trophies, Bobo Vieri hopes to return to the winning ways at Milan, but he cannot be sure of a starting spot. Ahead of him are Shevchenko and Gilardino, for starters...

Christian Vieri has won himself a label of a footballing nomad. Before joining Inter in 1999, he had played in eight teams in as many seasons; Internazionale were his ninth side, having signed him from Lazio for $ 45 million. He promised then that it was the end to his migrations. - "You can rest assured, I intend to stay black-and-blue for the rest of my life. I am fed up with moving. After having travelled half of the world, plan to stick in Milan for a long time."

In fact, he has kept a part of the promise. After six seasons, 122 goals in all competitions, a nasty string of injuries, scandals and scuffles with the fans, he has stayed in the city and at the same stadium. Just, on the other side of the street and a slightly different striped shirt, that of AC Milan.

Never in the history has such a big Inter player, a team symbol, crossed the fence to AC Milan so quickly. The big guy had his contract with Inter terminated on July st, only to be presented five days later as a Milan's reinforcement. Tottenham had been fancied to employ the controversial forwards, and Milan was not even rumoured about. It is true that the two Lombardian giants work closely and some players have switched sides by mutual accord. Still, the turnaround staged by Vieri and Milan had not been recorded, ever.

While Inter's fans are making up slogans and chants dedicated to Vieri as we speak, Inter's boardroom was not terribly upset by the player's transfer to the red-and-black half of the city. Vieri's former friend, coach Roberto Mancini, was in favour of his departure, and the owner, Massimo Moratti, also favoured the move. After all, Vieri's paycheck for the seventh and the last year of contract would have amounted to an incredible € 26 million, including taxes. Inter saved themselves a lot of money and, supposedly, just as much dressing room trouble, knowing Vieri's temperament.

The 32-year old centravanti now hopes to return to the national team, which he served well whenever he was fit, but for now he faces the status of the third choice striker, behind Andriy Shevchenko and Alberto Gilardino. At least, there is no doubt as to who will be the target of Inter's fans' boos and rhymes at the next Milan derby.

Ozren Podnar

Fact file
Christian Vieri

Born in Bologna on July 12th 1973, Vieri is a log of a footballing tree. His father Roberto (called Bob, incidentally) played for several major sides: Sampdoria, Fiorentina, Juventus, Roma and Bologna; grandpa Enzo was a keeper at Prato and Pistoiese. Christian's younger brother Max currently plies his trade at Ternana.

Birthdate: July 12th 1973
Birthplace: Bologna
Height and weight: 185 cm, 82 kg
Position: centerforward
Nicknames: Bobo, Bobogol, Muto (Silent one), Mostro (Monster)

Career breakdown (apps-goals)

1991/92 Torino 6 - 1
1992/93 Torino 1 - 0
Pisa 18 - 2
1993/94 Ravenna 32 -12
1994/95 Venezia 29 -11
1995/96 Atalanta 19 - 7
1996/97 Juventus 23 - 8
1997/98 Atl├ętico Madrid 24 - 24
1998/99 Lazio 22 - 12
1999/00 Inter 19 - 13
2000/01 Inter 27 - 18
2001/02 Inter 25 - 22
2002/03 Inter 23 - 24
2003/04 Inter 22 - 13
2004/05 Inter 27 - 12
2005/06 Milan

National team

1997-05 Italy 46 - 22


1 Italian championship (1997)
1 Italian Cup (2005)
1 European Supercup (1997)
1 Cup Winners' Cup (1999)
Top scorer in Spain (1998)
World Cup runner-up scorer (1998)

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