Marco Di Vaio: Captain Fantastic leads Bologna onwards and upwards

With Bologna sitting comfortably in 11th place in Serie A, it is easy to forget that earlier this season they were deducted three points for failing to pay their players. The team boast a league position and an air of stability that belies the stream of Coaches and owners that have come and gone in recent years. Throughout that time, however, there has been one constant at the club – Marco Di Vaio, the man known as ‘Captain Fantastic’.
While the leadership has been in a state of flux off the field, the club captain has remained the same since August 2008. On the pitch he has led by example, scoring goals with a metronomic efficiency, but he also makes all the right noises off the pitch.
To praise a man who has played for 10 clubs in 15 years for loyalty may seem questionable, but since joining Bologna Di Vaio, now 34, has been unshakeable in his commitment to the Rossoblu. As recently as January of this year, Di Vaio was courted by Inter and Juventus but turned them both down to stay with Bologna.
“Juventus and Inter looked at me. My head was here, though, and I had no intention to leave Bologna,” the prolific striker revealed.
Di Vaio showed Juventus exactly what they missed out on at the weekend by scoring a brace and condemning the Turin side to a 2-0 home defeat. Those two goals took his tally to 16 in 28 games this season, better than a goal every two games.
So far only Antonio Di Natale and Edinson Cavani have outscored Di Vaio and he sits level on goals with Samuel Eto’o. His importance to Bologna cannot be understated either as it seems that if he doesn’t score, no one does. Other than Di Vaio, only Henry Gimenez, Miguel Britos and Daniele Paponi have scored more than once all season, and his 16 strikes account for over half of Bologna’s goals in Serie A.
However, it is not just Di Vaio’s goalscoring feats that have inspired Bologna to their current league position, it’s the way he drives the team forward. His intelligent running creates space for those around him, he holds possession up well to give his defence a break, and uses all his experience and nous to inspire his teammates to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts by a distance.
As well as masterminding the win against Juventus, Di Vaio also scored a brace against Roma to drag his side from 2-0 down to a 2-2 draw.
Bologna’s 2010-11 season will probably not live long in the memory of any but their own fans. A mid-table finish looks an inevitability and, while avoiding relegation is always a success, the story of the season may well be forgotten.
What should not be forgotten, however, is the way one man has brought together a team in turmoil and dragged them clear of a relegation scrap. Well played, Captain Fantastic.

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