Fabio Quagliarella: The Italian striker maturing like a fine wine
There has always been an obsession with defending in Italian football, which is fair enough when you look back on the years of Catenaccio but Serie A and Italy have always had more than their fair share of top class forwards. The current league is no different, with some excellent attacking players and goal scorers across the league. Amongst them, there is a 35-year-old who is a former Italy international; currently having the best season in his career.
Fabio Quagliarella, the Sampdoria striker, is sitting in fourth place in the race for the Capocannoniere with 18 goals in Serie A this term. It's unlikely that he will win the award as he trails Ciro Immobile of Lazio by nine goals, but he is leading big names like Gonzalo Higuain, Edin Dzeko and Dries Mertens, despite his career winding down.
Quagliarella's storied career began back in 2000 when he made his first team debut for Torino. Despite getting that initial chance he struggled to nail down a regular place and ended up getting his break when he was loaned out to Fiorentina in 2002. At that time the Viola were down in Serie C2 and Quagliarella was able to get some game time in Florence before another loan spell saw him move to Chieti where he had a breakout season, scoring 17 goals in Serie C1.
That led to him moving back to Torino for a year, where he helped them win Serie B before finally breaking into Serie A with Ascoli in the 2005/06 season. Twelve months later, he moved to Sampdoria for his first spell in Genoa and it was here that he began to make his mark with 13 league goals; which earned him a place with the Azzurri whom he debuted for in March 2007.
Once again, Quagliarella didn't hang around and after a year with Samp he moved to Udinese where he stayed for two years before making his dream move to Napoli. He was a Napoli fan as a boy, living out his dream, but in reality, he was living a nightmare.
What people didn't know at the time was Quagliarella had a stalker who was making his life hell off the pitch. It transpired that the man who he thought was a policeman and helping him deal with it was the stalker, and while he suffered mostly off the pitch it also spilt into what was happening on it. Understandably, he felt he needed to get away from Naples which led to him commit the cardinal sin, leaving for Juventus.
While off the field his struggles continued, his time at Juventus was easily the best of his career in terms of honours as he managed to help the Old Lady win three Scudetto's and two Super Cups. However, he wasn't a regular starter and moved across Turin for another spell at his first club, Torino. In his first season back with Il Toro he equalled his previous best tally of 13 goals but midway through the following season he was on the move again, this time to his current club Sampdoria.
Since arriving back in Genoa, Quagliarella has done well with 15 goals in his first year-and-a-half at the club but it has been his form this season that has really set tongues wagging. He has built a superb partnership with Colombian international, Duvan Zapata with the pair combining for 28 Serie A goals, 18 of which have been scored by Quagliarella.
At 35 years old, Quagliarella is clearly in the twilight of his career but while he continues to score goals at the highest level there should be no talk of retirement. In fact, he should consider himself unlucky that Italy missed out on qualifying for the World Cup or there would undoubtedly be calls for an international return.
It's unlikely that he will ever play for the Azzurri again but Sampdoria are in with a real chance of playing in Europe next season and if Quagliarella can finish the season as well as he has played up to now then there's every chance they will get there.