The glory

 

Ciro Immobile has beaten the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski, and Lionel Messi to the coveted Golden Shoe for 2019-20. Immobile has enjoyed a remarkable season in front of goal, with his best-ever return posted in league competitions at 30 years of age. The almost forgotten Azzurri striker has set the standard in what has been an eventful campaign for all concerned.

Lazio will bring the curtain down on their season with a trip to Napoli, with their top scorer needing just one more goal to match the Italian top-flight record haul of 36 set by Gonzalo Higuain when he was in Naples in 2015-16. The kind of form Immobile has been in, it is expected, he would strike more in the last match of the season.

The last Serie A player to win the European Golden Shoe was Roma’s Francesco Totti in the 2006-07 season. Prior to that, Fiorentina’s Luca Toni had won the award in 2005-06. Immobile will become the third Serie A player in history to win this award.

The early days

Born in Torre Annunziata, in the province of Naples, Immobile began his youth career in the football school “Torre Annunziata ’88”, before transferring to “Maria Rosa” and finally the youth team of Salernitana, where, however, he failed to emerge.

He later joined Sorrento, with whom he scored 30 goals in the under-17 during the 2007–08 season, including a brace against Torino, impressing the observers of Juventus.

In 2008, he was signed at the age of 18 for €80,000 by Juventus under the recommendation of Ciro Ferrara.

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He went on to play with the Primavera formation.

In 2009, Immobile made his Serie A debut in a 4–1 home win against Bologna, replacing Juventus’ captain Alessandro Del Piero in the 89th minute. In November 2009, Immobile also made his debut in European competition, once again as a second-half substitute for Del Piero in a Champions League game against Bordeaux.

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In February 2010, he scored a hat-trick against Empoli in the 2010 Torneo di Viareggio final to seal the title for a second consecutive season.

In July 2010, Immobile, along with teammate Luca Marrone, were sent on loan to recently relegated Serie B side A.C. Siena. In exchange for the two loans, Juventus acquired Niccolò Giannetti, Leonardo Spinazzola, and Austrian midfielder Marcel Büchel on loan from the Tuscan club.

In August 2011, it was announced that Immobile would join Serie B club Pescara on a season-long loan from Juventus. But in 2012, he formally became a player for Genoa and in 2013, Genoa and Juventus again renewed the co-ownership agreements of Immobile and Boakye.

The struggle

In July 2013 Juventus bought Genoa’s half of Immobile for €2.75 million.

On the same day, he was sold to city-rivals Torino under a new co-ownership deal for €2.75 million.

He made his debut for Torino during the first round of the Coppa Italia against former club Pescara, scoring his first goal of the season.

He provided an assist in his Serie A debut for the club but did not score until October 7 in a 2–2 draw against Sampdoria. Previously, Immobile had failed to score in Serie A since December 2012.

The goal signaled a run of form for Immobile, with the player scoring a further 12 goals in his next 15 matches, including his first brace in Serie A during a game against Chievo Verona in December.

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In March 2014, Immobile scored his first Serie A hat-trick, in a 3–1 win against Livorno.

Three days later, he scored a spectacular volley with his left foot against Roma, temporarily bringing the Granata level at the Stadio Olimpico. On April 6, he scored the winning goal against Catania in a 2–1 victory.

On April 13, Genoa were leading 1–0, when Immobile and Alessio Cerci both scored in stoppage time to give Torino a 2–1 win.

He scored again in the following round in a 3–3 draw away to Lazio. In April, Immobile scored for the sixth consecutive match in a 2–0 defeat of Udinese.

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This took him to 21 goals in the season, equaling the seasonal goal records of Paolo Pulici and Francesco Graziani at Torino.

On May 11, Immobile scored in the penultimate fixture of the season against Parma, but was sent off in the second half and suspended for the final match against Fiorentina.

He concluded his season with 22 goals in 33 appearances, plus one goal in the Coppa Italia. He became the first Torino player to win the Capocannoniere since Francesco Graziani in the 1976–77 season.

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Before the start of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Borussia Dortmund announced the signing of Immobile despite the co-ownership agreement between Torino and Juventus not being resolved. Urbano Cairo, the president of Torino, accused Juventus and Dortmund of violating FIFA regulation regarding the transfer, which FIGC also states that such transfers must have mutual consent of the co-owners. Cairo also wanted to keep Immobile for at least a season for sports and for profit.

On June 18, 2014, Juventus sold the remaining 50% registration rights of Immobile to Torino for €8.035 million.

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Torino later revealed in its financial filing, that the transfer fee to the German side was €17.955 million.

Finally, On August 13, 2014, Immobile made his official debut for Dortmund as a striker in the starting line up for the 2014 DFL-Supercup against Bayern Munich.

The match ended in Borussia lifting the cup by a score of 2–0.

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Immobile made his Bundesliga debut in August in the opening match of Dortmund’s 2014–15 Bundesliga campaign which saw them lose 2–0 to Bayer Leverkusen at home.

In September 2014, Immobile scored his first goal for the club, opening a 2–0 home win over Arsenal in the group stages of the Champions League. He scored 4 times from 6 Champions League matches for Dortmund.

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But in Germany, Immobile was not satisfactory and it seemed that he was searching for goals. Dortmund wanted more and thus in 2015, he joined Sevilla.

On July 31, 2015, Immobile was stretchered off the pitch wearing an oxygen mask and a neck brace after playing just five minutes in a friendly against Watford at Vicarage Road after clashing heads with an opponent. He was taken to the hospital for tests and was in recovering condition.

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It was later determined his nasal septum ruptured, which looked like a major injury but turned out to be only minor.

In November, the obligation to buy a clause was exercised when Immobile made his fifth appearance, buying him outright for €11 million-plus the €3 million for the loan spell.

Immobile returned to Torino on loan until the end of 2015–16 season.

Immobile joins Lazio – change of fortune

On July 27, 2016, Immobile signed with Lazio for a fee of €8.75 million (plus €700,000 commission to agents).

At Lazio, the Italian Serie A witnessed a new Immobile.

He has amassed 102 league goals across four seasons so far, finishing as the top scorer on three occasions. Overall, he has scored 124 goals in 177 matches for the club.

This isn’t the first occasion where Immobile has topped the Serie A goal-scoring charts.

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The 30-year-old has earlier won the ‘Capocannoniere’ twice before in 2014 and 2018.

With his third ‘Capocannoniere’ award in line, Immobile will equal the likes of Michel Platini and Giuseppe Meazza among others to win this award three times.

He will become the second Lazio player to script this feat.

Why Immobile has been so successful in this season?

Jerry Mancini of The Laziali, World Football Index and the Calcio Connection Podcast sopke with Shawn McIntosh where he said, “I credit both of these soon-to-be-mentioned reasons to Simone Inzaghi. First, it’s the tactics that Lazio plays in, which put Ciro in a position to be successful. Second, it’s the opportunity”.

“If you go back to [Borussia] Dortmund and Sevilla, Ciro was on a pretty short leash. I want to say at his time with Sevilla he played like 15 matches. The investment levels that both of those clubs made in him that just wasn’t enough”.

“Going into a foreign country, having to learn a new system, a new language, and being alone it takes time to adjust. We say it all the time how players coming into Serie A, its absolutely foolish to judge a player by his first season. We even saw it with a player like [Matthijs] de Ligt who has struggled in his first season, but it would be absolutely foolish to write him off”.

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“I don’t believe that Ciro got the opportunity at both of those clubs. [With Lazio], here Inzaghi has shown that faith in Ciro, and has put him in a position to succeed with the style of play”.

“Ciro, as we know, loves to play in the shooting lanes, he’s playing off the shoulder of defenders, and he’s part of the build-up. [Ciro] and Simone are a match made in heaven”.

Even though Immobile is a striker, but he is not someone, who sits idle and waits for his opportunity. Rather, his offensive movement off the ball, as well as his ability to make attacking runs and exploit spaces.

His main characteristics are his eye for goal and finishing ability with either foot, as well as his physical attributes; he also possesses solid technique and is effective in the air.

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In addition to his offensive capabilities and goalscoring ability, he is also a hard-working player, known for his willingness to chase down the ball and press opponents when not in possession; he also possesses good link-up play, which enables him to provide assists for teammates, in addition to scoring goals himself – 9 quality assists this season including that one to Correa against Brescia.

Again, he is a brilliant penalty taker: 14 of his goals this season came from penalties courtesy of VAR and handball rule. But that can never undermine his achievements because penalties are a part of the game and it takes special abilities to score from the spot.

Conclusion

Immobile has seen the ups and downs of his footballing life. He never gave up, but stuck to his dream and worked harder to become better. In the 30s, his efforts are paying off like Jamie Vardy. He is not a struggler anymore but a revolution, which broke the monotony of Messi and Ronaldo.