Fiorentina will have an extra fan urging them to beat Juventus in the Europa League this Thursday with Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel following the fortunes of Mario Gomez.
On a visit to Berlin, Italy's new Prime Minister Matteo Renzi -- a Fiorentina fan and former mayor of Florence -- presented Merkel with a signed Gomez shirt. "I'm truly honoured that Italy's Prime Minister and the Chancellor of Germany, two of the most important countries in the world, exchange my shirt," Gomez told ANSA. "And I'm delighted that Fiorentina have an illustrious fan in Angela Merkel."
Renzi picked up the shirt on Sunday after watching the Viola's 3-1 win over Chievo, a game which marked Gomez's return to the scoresheet in a Serie A game for the first time since September 1. The 28-year-old forward is certain Merkel will have seen that goal even before Renzi's arrival on Monday.
"Merkel is a big fan of football," he told RAI. "I know that she's also supporting Fiorentina because she's a fan of all of the Germany internationals playing in other leagues. She's Germany's biggest fan. I hope that, if it fits in with her schedule, she can come to watch a game here at the [Stadio Artemio] Franchi."
Should Merkel accept that invitation, she is bound to see a different kind of football to the one she is used to in Germany, although Gomez says Italian football has nothing to be ashamed of.
"I've got nothing to teach to the Italians -- I love playing in this league," Gomez added. "Italian football's different to Spanish and German, but it's only different and not inferior. Playing here has given back to me my joy in playing football."