AS Livorno Calcio captain Cristiano Lucarelli completed a perfect week yesterday by scoring the only goal of the Tuscan derby against ACF Fiorentina, three days after hitting the net on his side's European debut against Austria's FCS Pasching.
Striker, captain, symbol
The 30-year-old striker has scored 43 goals in the past two seasons, but it is not just his goals that make him such a pivotal player for Livorno; he is also the captain, the team's biggest fan and the symbol of the club. Once again this week he proved just how crucial he is to his side. On Thursday, his 49th-minute strike ensured the Labronici kicked off their UEFA Cup campaign with victory after Tomas Danilevicius had opened the scoring. On Sunday he was at it again, heading in a 13th-minute corner to earn his side their first points of the season.
"I'm extremely happy today," Lucarelli said. "We earned three precious points. I was a bit worried because we used up so much energy in beating Pasching. But although we were tired we still beat a team as good as Fiorentina. Technically they are superior to us but our determination brought us victory."
Lucarelli made the headlines two years ago when he gave up a lucrative contract with Torino Calcio to join his beloved Livorno on a much lower salary. "It would be traumatic, almost like divorcing my wife," he once said when asked what it would be like to leave the club. This summer his loyalty was again tested to the full. Russian side FC Zenit St. Petersburg reportedly offered him a three-year contract worth €3m a season, and Juventus also expressed an interest. "I had a moment of doubt when I received that huge offer from Russia, but for me money has never been an important factor," said Lucarelli, who has been capped three times by Italy. "
In my eyes there is only Livorno and the Livorno shirt."
Fiorentina know that only too well. The striker has scored seven goals in his last three games against Viola goalkeeper Sébastien Frey. "It's nothing personal with Frey, but it's great to score in a derby in front of our fans," Lucarelli said. With the derby won, Lucarelli has now set his sights on the group stage of the UEFA Cup. "We're already making history as Livorno had never played in a European competition before, but we don't want to stop now," he said. With Lucarelli in his usual free-scoring form, it looks as if Livorno's European adventure has only just begun.
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