Veteran striker Toni still undecided over ending career at season-end

Rome, Jan 2 (IANS) Veteran Italian striker Luca Toni admits he “hasn’t decided yet” whether to retire at the end of the football season.

He will turn 39 in May, but the Verona hitman is still as potent as ever, finishing as Serie A’s joint highest scorer last season with Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi on 22 goals.

“Everyone says I signed on to become a director of Verona, but the truth is I am still a football player and I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll retire in June or in 2017,” Toni was quoted as saying by football-italia.net on Saturday.

“I’ve been supposed to quit for the last four years and I’ll make a decision in the spring. A lot will depend on how the season goes and how I’m feeling, so whether I want to keep challenging myself all over again,” the former Italy international added.

The 2006 World Cup winner also ruled out becoming a coach in the near future. “Would I become a coach? No, it’s far too stressful. I’ve seen some of my ex-teammates get wiped out so fast,” the former Fiorentina, Bayern Munich and Roma player said.

Bottom-placed Verona face defending champions and fourth-placed Juventus on Wednesday, one of Toni’s many former clubs.

“It’s better we face them now after the Christmas break, so hopefully some will still be distracted. Juve are clearly stronger, but we can cause them problems,” Toni said.

He picked out Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic for special praise.

“I like Mario Mandzukic, as like me he’s an old-school centre-forward. Now the fashion is for the ‘False 9,’ but when the team is struggling, a big striker knows how to help out. He might not be great to watch, but between goals, assists and hard work for the team, he does more than anyone,” he said about the Croatia international who joined Juventus from Atletico Madrid.

“I think to be considered a great striker you need to net 20 goals for at least four or five seasons. I prefer someone who trips up on the ball and scores 20 rather than a player who pirouettes three times with a back-heel flick and scores 10.”

Toni also regretted about his short stint with Juventus that lasted for only a season. He scored only twice in 15 games for the Turin-based giants.

“It’s true I have regrets about Juventus, because I was at a big club and would’ve gladly stayed longer, as I still have a strong rapport with the old guard there,” Toni recalled.

“When Antonio Conte arrived, he had different ideas and I opted for a change of scenery. It’s a pity, as I never got the chance to prove what I could do with him, but a coach can prefer different styles.”

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