Meet Lazio striker Ciro Immobile, the Italian goal-king who keeps on smashing the Serie A scoring charts this season.
|Nickname:||King Ciro, Ciruzzo|
|Born:||February 20, 1990|
|Birthplace:||Torre Annunziata, Italy|
|Height:||1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)|
|Clubs:||Juventus, Siena, Grosseto, Genoa, Torino, Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla, Lazio|
|Titles:||5 (All Club)|
Nicknamed ‘Ciruzzo’ in his native Italy, Ciro Immobile is a classic example of a late bloomer. Finding the right club and setup in Lazio has propelled him to the top, with even Europe’s elite strikers struggling to keep up. Who knows? A maiden European Golden Shoe and Serie A title could both come his way soon.
The 30-year-old isn’t the most glamorous or exciting player out there, but he’s effective nonetheless. His powerful work ethic, physical presence and ability to score on both feet make him a great forward.
But arguably Immobile’s greatest trait is his timing and vision in the area. It’s those magical instincts that place him in a scoring opportunity at both the right spot and moment to dispatch the ball with a first-time shot or header. The outcome? A league-best of 27 goals in just 26 matches.
Early struggles at Juventus
Ciro Immobile’s story began in the Neapolitan city of Torre Annunziata on February 20, 1990. He is one of two children to Antonio and Michela Immobile.
Despite initial struggles at a few academies, Immobile found his feet at Sorrento and showed his potential. A goal-laden six years starring for the youth teams followed before Juventus became interested. Encouraged by club legend Ciro Ferrara, they signed the youngster for €80,000 in 2007.
It didn’t take long to the teenager to make his mark either, with 11 goals in 23 games in the 08/09 Italian Youth League. This strong form earned him a call-up to the senior team. He later made his Serie A debut on March 14 during a 4-1 win over Bologna, in a one-minute cameo.
More success in Juventus’ youth teams followed as Ciro’s record of five goals in two games led to Viareggio Cup glory. It awarded him further cameos for the senior team, including a Champions League debut. Aware he needed better, though, the 20-year-old joined Serie B side Siena on loan in 2010.
Moving to Tuscany, however, didn’t go to plan for Immobile. Only one goal came through his four league outings before he switched to Grosseto in January 2011. Although it wasn’t until he joined Pescara in the following campaign where things worked out. The outcome? 28 goals and six assists in 37 Serie B games in 2011/12.
A first Capocannoniere award
After his success in the Italian second division, Genoa bought half of Juventus’ ownership of Ciro Immobile for €4m in 2012. Although his time in Liguria was short following a disappointing stint. To his credit, though, the forward took full responsibility.
“Players often look for alibis – it’s easy to give the blame to others,” said Ciro. “I messed up, even if the atmosphere [in Genoa] was not ideal for me.”
Therefore, Torino took over Genoa’s share of Immobile for the 2013/14 season and reaped the benefits.
The Italian was well-suited to Torino’s style of play despite taking six league games to get on the scoresheet. From that point on, though, he constantly plundered in the goals to finish with a league-best of 22 strikes. Thus, he became the club’s first player in 37 years to win a Capocannoniere prize.
A host of top European clubs came sniffing around for Immobile in 2014 before Borussia Dortmund signed him for €18.50m. They brought him as a direct replacement for Robert Lewandowski, who joined rivals Bayern Munich. So he already had big shoes to fill in Signal Iduna Park for 2014/15.
Failed stints abroad
Life in Germany got off to a bright start, with Ciro Immobile scoring four goals in six Champions League group-stage games. But that was the sole highlight of a disastrous campaign. He scored just three times in 24 Bundesliga games amid struggles to adapt to a foreign land.
While Dortmund crashed to a bitter seventh-place finish and 33 points behind champions Bayern Munich in the league standings. It was a far cry from the back-to-back successes under Jurgen Klopp from 2011 to 2013.
“I don’t see my season with Dortmund negatively,” said Immobile.
“There were some real problems there in the dressing room and they were going through a generation change.
“I could have given more and I’m sorry about how it all ended, but I still look back on my time in Germany positively.”
A failed switch to Sevilla came in the following campaign, where Immobile struck just four goals in 15 games. He returned to Torino for a six-month loan stint in January 2016 before joining Lazio permanently for €9.45m.
Immobile reborn at Lazio
After representing nine different teams, Ciro Immobile struck gold on the 10th attempt at Lazio. It only took him 15 minutes to score on his debut in a 4-3 thriller against Atalanta in August 2016. 115 more goals and 32 assists across 167 games have since come his way. Not a bad haul, especially when you consider he cost Lazio so little.
The Neapolitan has clearly found his ideal base in Rome after so many transfers that went bust. Like the many Italian greats before him, Immobile works best in a stable and supportive home.
Everyone at the Stadio Olimpico loves and supports him, which has led the striker to develop an unwavering loyalty to the club. Not even the prospect of joining another top European club can tempt anymore.
“I’m happy here, there was never a thought of leaving,” said Immobile.
“I don’t even think about it. I bought a house, it’s above the Olimpico, I’ll be closer to the stadium.”
Head coach Simone Inzaghi’s tactics have worked out superbly for Immobile as well. They make great use of Ciro’s runs in behind defenders, his hold-up play, and ability to score at the first attempt. Ultimately, it’s a win-win scenario for everyone associated with the Biancocelesti.
The future looks bright, with two Supercoppa Italiana titles and one Coppa Italia already in the bag. Now the aim for Immobile is to end Lazio’s 20-year wait for Serie A glory and win a spot in Italy’s Euro 2020 squad. Judging how things are going right now, it’s safe to say he’s definitely on the right track.