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By ESPN Staff

Vieri ends Atalanta stay after hard time from fans

Christian Vieri has torn up his contract with Atalanta, with reports claiming the fans' treatment of the former Italy striker played a major part in his decision.

Injuries and poor form have restricted Vieri to just nine Serie A appearances and two goals for the club, while he has been consistently booed and jeered by the supporters since his return from Fiorentina last summer.

A statement by Vieri read: "I want to thank Atalanta for the correctness they have shown me throughout the season and for my previous experiences in the nerazzurra shirt."

Vieri spent the 1995/96 season at the Bergamo-based club before a string of impressive performances earned him a move to giants Juventus.

The striker's second spell started after his absence from the 2006 World Cup because of injury and his departure to Fiorentina only a year later left a bitter taste in the mouths of Atalanta supporters, who felt he had betrayed the club which had given him the chance to regain form and fitness.

The majority of fans were therefore against his return, but the club ignored their protests.

Matters came to a head when Vieri was again booed during a friendly at the weekend, leading to his request for his contract to be rescinded two months early.

"It's left me deeply bitter," said club president Alessandro Ruggeri. "I haven't spoken to him yet but I know that my colleagues have spoken to him: he was unmovable, I don't think there are any margins for a rethought.

"I think he was pushed to this decision by a number of things.

"This summer he arrived two weeks early so that he could be in form at the pre-season training camp, he really wanted to do well. Then he got injured and had to do all the preparation again. For someone in his shape it was a big blow.

"He came back and he was again injured: in short, he's been quite unlucky."

Ruggeri added: "We also have to take into account the negative welcome by the fans. As regards the recent jeers, if he had scored two or three goals more people would have behaved differently.

"It's a pity it's happened like this."

It is likely that the former Inter Milan star, who turns 36 in July, could have played his last game in Serie A.


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