MILAN (AP) Nearly 20 years after his father scuppered Juventus’ title hopes, Giovanni Simeone has compensated the Serie A club.
In April 2000, Diego Simeone fired Lazio to a 1-0 win against Juventus, and the capital club went on to finish a point above the Bianconeri to win the title.
Last Sunday, his son Giovanni netted a hat trick to help Fiorentina beat Juve’s closest challengers, Napoli, 3-0 and leave the Bianconeri on the brink of a seventh successive title.
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It was an emotional night for Giovanni, and an expensive one.
The Argentine improved his personal-best season tally to 13, and means he has to treat all of his Fiorentina teammates and staff to a traditional Argentine barbecue.
Giovanni is set for another emotional day on Sunday at Genoa, where he returns to the club which brought him to Italy.
He scored 12 league goals in his only season at Genoa and swiftly became a cult hero, especially after a brace against Juventus in a memorable victory for the club.
The 22-year-old Giovanni’s eye for goal persuaded Fiorentina to spend approximately 15 million euros (now $18 million) to sign him in August.
He had a mixed start to his Fiorentina career, but in the second half of the season he’s putting in performances which reportedly have some of the biggest clubs in Europe taking note.
”To whoever asks me about my future I say that, for the moment, it is fundamental to continue working like this, then we’ll see,” Giovanni said. ”I’m very happy in Florence and I want to stay here for now.
”I get on really well with everyone, I have had great support and help from everyone in a difficult season, I feel that I have grown and am appreciated.”
It is more than likely too late for Giovanni to be considered for Argentina’s World Cup squad. The forward has never played for the senior national team but is hoping to be a permanent fixture by 2022.
”It is still too early to say if I’ll manage to play in the World Cup in Qatar, certainly I hope to have the chance,” Giovanni said. ”I’m working so hard to get to play for the national team one day, I hope it happens, but frankly there’s still time to think about the next World Cup.”
Giovanni dedicated his hat trick against Napoli to his father and grandfather, both of whom were strong influences in his career.
Giovanni started out playing in central midfield, like his father, until Diego – the current Atletico Madrid coach – noticed his skills were very different to his own and demanded he switch to attack.
Giovanni, who is nicknamed ”El Cholito,” shares the same rugged determination as his father, who earned the nickname ”El Cholo” because of that characteristic.
It is his grandfather Carlos who is credited with instilling that uncompromising, never-say-die attitude in his own son, and who is also Giovanni’s harshest critic.
”He lives in Buenos Aires, but he never misses a Fiorentina match,” Giovanni said. ”He is less diplomatic than Dad. One time recently he told me in an angry tone, `Explain to me how on earth you managed to miss that goal?’ And I was stuttering excuses.
”Grandad is great. It was him who invented Cholismo.”