x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Luca Toni wants to be the catalyst for success at Al Nasr

The Italian striker said that being felt wanted by Al Nasr managed Walter Zenga helped persuade him to come to the UAE.

Luca Toni is determined to make a positive impact with Al Nasr.
Luca Toni is determined to make a positive impact with Al Nasr.

DUBAI // A World Cup winner and a proud owner of the 2006 European Golden Shoe, Luca Toni has set his sights on reaching the top of the Pro League scoring charts and ending Al Nasr's 26-year wait for a league title.

"I have scored a lot of goals in Italy and Germany, and I hope I can continue doing that here," Toni said at an introductory news conference yesterday. "I want to help my colleagues, my coach and my club to win something.

"I am here to win and will give my best in every game. We will see where we can reach."

Toni, 34, has been one of the finest finishers in the game over the past decade, with 2006 being a particularly memorable year, when he won the World Cup with Italy and was named in the Fifa World Cup All-Star team.

He was the top scorer in Serie A with Fiorentina that year and led Bundesliga with Bayern Munich in 2008. That same year, he finished as the leading scorer in the Uefa Cup.

Nasr have been knocked out of the President's Cup and cannot progress to the semi-finals of the Etisalat Cup, but they have emerged as prime contenders in the Pro League.

Walter Zenga's side have a nine-match league unbeaten streak, during which they have earned 23 points, and are second in the table, three points behind Al Ain and one ahead of the defending champions Al Jazira.

Mark Bresciano, who spent 12 season in Italy before coming to Nasr last year, is the leading league scorer for the team with six goals.

Toni is determined to take over that position from the Australian midfielder. "Bresciano is a good player, but I hope I can start scoring goals quickly because I want to be No 1 for the team," Toni said.

Bresciano was one of the players Toni spoke to before agreeing to a one-year deal with Nasr. He also had a talk with his captain from the 2006 World Cup, Fabio Cannavaro, who played for Al Ahli last season before calling time on his career.

He said the deal-clinchers, however, were the presence of Zenga, the former Italy and Inter Milan goalkeeper, and the need for a new challenge.

Toni said: "Bresciano and Cannavaro told me, 'You should come here. Some people think it is easy, but it is not.'

"I liked that and I wanted to come here and give it a try. On the world map, the level of football in the UAE is not that high, but football is difficult everywhere.

"I wanted to come here because Zenga called me. For me, it is very important that the manager called me and said, 'You have to come, you have to come, we have to try to win.'

"Then, I also love challenges. I want to try to win something here."

Toni is the second World Cup winner and former Juventus forward to arrive in the Pro League this season. The first, David Trezeguet, soon opted out of his contract with Baniyas. The Italian, however, has promised he is here for a longer stay.

"I am here to play for one year," he said. "After that, if the team is happy and I am happy, we continue; if the team is not happy with me or I am not happy here, I pack my bags.

"But I am here for one year, I want to win trophies and score goals."