The former Italy international established a reputation as one of the most consistent goalscorers in Serie A during a 12-year spell in Udine. Across 446 appearances, the two-time Capocannoniere winner netted on 227 occasions.
Unsurprisingly, that return saw Di Natale attract admiring glances from across Europe on a regular basis. Juventus were shunned in efforts to prise a proven frontman away from Serie A rivals, while Liverpool also saw efforts to lure the diminutive striker to England rebuffed.
Di Natale told Tuttosport of knocking back interest from afar: “I wanted to remain in Udine and had just signed a four-year contract, I’d won the Capocannoniere title, felt important here and simply didn’t want to change everything.
“Liverpool wanted me at all costs too, they were prepared to do anything to get me to sign for them, but it would’ve made no sense for me to go to England when I’d already turned down Juve.”
Di Natale started his career at Empoli, with 55 goals in 177 appearances there earning him a switch to Udinese in 2004.
He also broke into the senior Italy squad while with his first club and went on to earn 42 caps for the Azzurri.
No part was played in the successful 2006 World Cup campaign, but Di Natale did get to play alongside some fine striking talent over the course of his career.
He considers himself to be fortunate in that department, but admits that a five-time Ballon d’Or winner of the modern era would have been his choice if put in a position to pick a perfect partner.
Di Natale, who retired in 2016, added: “Cristiano Ronaldo would’ve been an ideal team-mate, because he is so quick with his legs and his mind. I was a little bit like him back in the day, so it would’ve been fantastic for us to play together.”