Grumpiest man in football now a big cuddly bear

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Christian Vieri used to be the grumpiest man in football but even though he can still outstare anyone during his ever-more rare appearances on a football pitch, overall Bobo seems to have mellowed into a big cuddly bear.

The evidence is there in the latest Italian edition of Vanity Fair where the big man adorns the cover with his svelte-like girlfriend, 22-year-old Melissa Satta draped across his lap.

She is in fact a desk dancer on the Striscia la notizia (‘Strip the News’) show -  a satirical look at daily news events with a scantily-clad Melissa and chum providing the backdrop gyrating on a desk! 

Beauty and Beast indeed but at least the beast is sated by the sounds of it.

Beauty and the Beast: Christian Vieri and Melissa Satta 

Now 34 and after years of wanderlust which has taken him up and down the peninsula as well as to Spain and France, Vieri.’s career has been on the slide for some time.

He may have ranted and railed in the past when faced with his current lot at Fiorentina - seven starts in the league and 17 times coming off the bench for a return of five goals - but now it’s taken with a mere shrug of the shoulders.

It’s hard to believe that this was a player who once refused to celebrate scoring when he was at Inter and tore into a group of Italian journalists at Euro 2004 haranguing them that he was more of a man than they would ever be.

Those were the good old, bad old days for the cricket-loving grump but a serious knee injury picked up at Monaco as he attempted to find some form to force his way into the Italy squad for the 2006 World Cup looks to have changed his approach to life.

“I was at a low point when I did my knee in and really didn’t know where I was going, I was depressed,” he recounted. “Then along came Melissa and she has been a really sweet companion and stuck by me.”

Whether Viola coach Cesare Prandelli stands by his man is another matter and having already left Miss Satta in Milan to sit on the Viola bench, the word is that come the summer her man will be down south in Naples for one last fling.