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Montella makes loan move to Fulham

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LONDON, England -- Former Italian international striker Vincenzo Montella has joined English Premier League side Fulham on loan from Roma until the end of the season.

The 32-year-old, a key player in Roma's championship-winning season in 2000-2001, scored 83 goals in 180 games for Roma and three in 19 appearances for the Azzurri.

His most memorable Roma performance came in March 2002 when he struck four goals in a 5-1 demolition of city rivals Lazio.

A recurring shoulder injury has kept him out of action for long periods in the past year and, even when fit, the preference of Roma coach Luciano Spalletti for a lone striker has kept him on the bench as a substitute for Francesco Totti.

Montella's departure means that now only club skipper Francesco Totti remains of the starting line-up that won the Serie A title five years ago.

Montella, nicknamed `il aeroplanino' (the aeroplane) because of his trademark goal celebration, previously played for Empoli, Genoa and Sampdoria before moving to Roma in 1999.

He scored a number of crucial goals in the Scudetto-winning season of 2000-01, many as a substitute, after refusing to hand over his cherished number nine shirt to newly-signed Argentinian striker Gabriel Batistuta, who had demanded the jersey.

He was part of the Italy squad for the 2002 World Cup but did not feature in Marcello Lippi's victorious 23-man party in Germany last year.

Montella said: "It has been an ambition of mine to play in England at some point in my career and I am happy to be given the opportunity.

"For me, I just want to play football and score goals, so I am looking forward to being able to do that with Fulham as soon as possible."


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Fulham fans will be hoping to see some of the 'aeroplanino' goal celebrations.

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