Following Napoli’s confirmation that they have signed striker Leonardo Pavoletti from Genoa for an undisclosed fee, UEFA.com tells you five things you may not already know about the 28-year-old.
1) His father, Paolo, is a tennis teacher and Leonardo also played the game as a child. “I had a great two-handed backhand, very powerful,” he said. “But once I started to play football [aged ten] I never looked back.”
2) The Livorno-born player blossomed later than most. He was still at amateur side Armando Picchi, the club named after the legendary ‘Grande Inter’ defender, when he was 20. He made his Serie A debut with Sassuolo in a 7-0 defeat at Internazionale on 14 September 2014 and scored his first top-flight goal in a 2-1 loss at Palermo three months later, when he was already 26.
3) Pavoletti moved to Genoa in January 2015 and quickly became a crowd favourite with six goals in ten games in his first half-season at the club. He added 14 in 25 appearances in 2015/16 and has three in nine this campaign. Genoa keeper Mattia Perin gave him the nickname ‘Pavoloso’ – ‘favoloso’ is the Italian word for fabulous – in October 2016 and it has stuck with Rossoblu fans ever since.
4) Pavoletti has a unconventional domestic pet: a pot-bellied Vietnamese pig called Mou. “My brother’s girlfriend brought it home when it was very small; we put it in our garden and it started eating everything,” he said. “Now he weighs 100kg! I won promotion with Sassuolo when it arrived, so now it is my lucky charm.”
5) His idol was Cristiano Lucarelli, another striker from Livorno, but Genoa fans have compared him with Diego Milito. Pavoletti said, however: “Milito was ‘The Prince’ whereas I’m the workman of goals.” Milito scored two for Inter in the 2010 UEFA Champions League final at the Santiago Bernabéu; Pavoletti could make his competition debut at the same venue should he appear against Real Madrid in the round of 16 next month.