Miccoli's 40-metre goal worthy of Maradona

Palermo's Fabrizio Miccoli has always been an admirer of Diego Maradona and on Sunday scored a hat-trick, including an astonishing effort from near the halfway line which his hero would have been proud of.

Miccoli, whose admiration for Maradona has extended to paying $25,000 for an ear-ring which once belonged to the Argentine and to naming his son Diego, opened his account in the 4-1 win over Chievo by curling a free-kick around the wall in the 13th minute.

His second came just before the hour when he collected the ball on the edge of the area with a first touch which took him away from two defenders. He then evaded another marker and scored with a low shot inside the near post.

But the best from the player sometimes known as "the pocket rocket" was to yet to come.

With eight minutes to go, the ball was headed down to Miccoli, who was sideways to the goal, just inside the Chievo half. Without looking, he hooked a looping effort towards the goal and the ball flew over stunned Chievo goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino and bounced just before it crossed the line.

The 33-year-old, who in his sixth season as Palermo has produced many outstanding moments, has been under-rated throughout his career according to many people.

He joined Juventus in 2002 but was loaned successively to Perugia, Fiorentina and Benfica while his Italy career was restricted to a handful of friendlies and Euro qualifying matches in 2003/04.

He was not recalled again after that, not even when he had an outstanding season for Palermo in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup.

Even at Palermo, he is not always guaranteed a start and had begun the previous two games on the bench.

"It is one of my best days," he said. "This is my sixth season in Palermo and every time I feel as if I have to start from scratch and prove I'm not old, or just good enough to play the last half-hour."

Coach Gian Piero Gasperini, however, said he was counting on Miccoli to play an important role throughout the season.

"Fabrizio can still improve," he said. "He's not going to score three goals every time but he's a very important player and has an important role to play.

"He's our special ingredient."


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