Krzysztof Piatek: il Pistolero

Gunslingers have long appealed to people from young to old. Particularly as a part of Western lore, they are in everything from cartoons to movies, and children all over the world have grown up pretending to be them. Milan have a new gunslinger in Krzysztof Piatek. And though his trademark celebration is inspired by the popularity of gunslingers in his homeland, it has also quickly become quite popular amongst football fans worldwide. Particularly since it always follows a goal. So in Italy, he is called the Gunslinger, or “il Pistolero.”

One of the good guys

Not even Cinderella could have dreamed Piatek’s story. Literally a year ago, he was still playing in the Polish League as a relatively unknown young striker outside of his home country. Having grown up in Poland, He debuted for Lechia Dzierzoniow’s first team at the age of 17, making six appearances for the club. At 18, he made his debut in the Ekstraklasa, the top Polish league, for Zaglebie Lubin.

After a couple of years there, he made the move to Cracovia. This is where he started turning heads, scoring 32 goals in his 65 appearances for the club over two years’ time. Still, having scored 21 of those goals during his second season in Krakow, he was only the third best scorer in the Ekstraklasa. That earned him a provisional callup to the Polish National Team for World Cup 2018, however he was amongst those cut from the squad before they went to Russia.

A meteoric rise to fame began at Genoa

Someone at Genoa had the good sense to scout and find him, and even more good sense to sign him for their team. He paid dividends immediately, scoring a hat trick in their Coppa Italia match vs. Lecce upon his arrival. He scored again in his debut in Serie A, then a brace in the next match. He couldn’t seem to stop scoring, smashing Serie A scoring records left and right by unknowns like Shevchenko and Batistuta. Oh, and getting regular callups to the Polish National Team, too.

Genoa certainly cashed in on their dream signing. Having paid Cracovia about €4.5 million, they got €35 million for him from Milan in January. While that seems like a tasty piece of business, and is apparently also a record transfer fee for a Genoa player, Milan will reap far more than that in his goals alone. Not to mention shirt sales and other marketing devices.

Ask not what Milan has done for you, but what you have done for Milan

Not just any player could make the jump from the Polish Ekstraklasa to one of the top European teams in just six months. At 23, the man simply scores goal after goal after goal, and is actually in the race for capocannoniere with some of the top strikers in the world. Think about that. Serie A is one of the most difficult leagues in which strikers have to acclimate, especially with all of the intense tactics and excellent defense that isn’t as strong in other leagues.

Piatek has a focus and drive that is rare. As Gattuso points out, he is very serious. He asks about his opponents ahead of each game and clearly prepares for each match as if it’s personal. His technique is fantastic, and he is blessed with a radar for the back of the net that makes it all look effortless. He works hard, and even in Gattuso’s service-starved, defensive team, has still managed to score eight goals since January, something that older, more experienced strikers have been unable to do.

A model athlete

His fan appeal was instantaneous. With his trademark “pistolero” celebration, the Curva Sud instantly came up with their “pum pum pum” chant, and people of all ages now emulate his celebration with glee. Not just because it’s awesome, either, although that helps. But as mentioned earlier, it always follows a goal, which makes it all that much more fun to do.

But in addition to being a model athlete on the pitch, he is so humble. He came to Milan and was just so honored and in awe to be in such amazing training facilities. He was grateful his fairy godmother had somehow summoned him to a club he supported even as a child. He asked all about the pictures and facilities of Milanello, quietly taking in what it meant to be Milan. He humbly accepted the number 19 jersey, being told he would have to earn his favorite number nine, and gratefully accepted the challenge.

Yes, that is a young Piatek with his Milan towel

The fact that he replaced the struggling and want-away, older Higuain, whose salary of €9 million was cumbersome in comparison to Piatek’s meager €2 million in wages was not lost on the fans. And who could blame them? A younger, better striker with an insanely better form for much smaller wages? What’s not to love? Oh, and hey, he has possibly the best celebration of anyone in recent years, too.

Seriously, what's not to love?

It is all of these things and more that has given Piatek instant fame at Milan. He has been turning heads all over Europe with his amazing stats, and is now not only playing for the Polish National Team, but scoring for them, too. As much as his dreams have suddenly come true in less than a year, he is making our dreams come true, too. A world class young striker with an identity but also humility. He is “il Pistolero.”

This post inspired by the music of the Sex Pistols

Krzysztof Piatek: il Pistolero Krzysztof Piatek: il Pistolero Reviewed by Elaine on 1:52 AM Rating: 5
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