49 goals in 158 games followed in eight fairly strong years followed as Empoli yo-yo’d between Serie A and B. A 2004 transfer to Udinese followed and - at least initially - the now 27-year-old Di Natale was solid but not remarkable.
While many could assume a forward famed for his pace could maybe have another five or six good years left, Di Natale had 12.
Between 2009, when he was already 33, and 2011 only Messi and Ronaldo scored more goals than his 67. Despite being well into his 30’s he received several lucrative contract offers from abroad, but he turned them all down. Club captain since 2007, Di Natale had developed a true bond with the club and the city his family called home.
By the time he hung up his boots in 2016, he had become the eighth-highest scoring Italian in history. His 311 putting him within 7 goals of the likes of Inzaghi, Totti and Baggio. While they plied their trade with the giants of Italian football, Di Natale did it all with Empoli and Udinese. Despite retiring aged 39 in 2016, nobody scored more Serie A goals in the 2010s than him.