Tales Black

Paulo Dybala. Andrea Belotti. Kyle Lafferty. What do these fine men have in common?

This star-studded list of exciting forwards contains some promising talent, yet more importantly, highlights just how mad this game we call football is. These three forwards represented the mighty Palermo in the 2013/14 campaign, where the Rosanero were promoted to the Italian top-flight after a short spell in Serie B.

Although the defensive duties carried out by the side should not go overlooked, it was the attacking aspect to the 2013/14 Serie B winners that really makes the mind wonder. The stern defence, with very few big name players or future stars, conceded just 28 goals.

It is, however, the 62 goals scored by the side from Sicily that really catches the eye. In a side led by none other than Gennaro Gattuso, it may just surprise you which of the aforementioned forwards shone the brightest.

Juventus wonder kid Dybala is your obvious guess, no doubt whatsoever. Well, think again. The 23-year-old future world-beater managed just five goals in 30 games, so surely it must have been his good friend Belotti who stole the headlines week-in-week-out?

Nope. Afraid not. The Torino front man certainly outscored Dybala as he notched a slightly more impressive ten goals in 24 games, but once again missed out on the top spot.

It was, of course, the one and only Lafferty who topped the tally, scoring 12 goals in 36 games. Incredibly, the cultured forward not only outscored both Dybala and Belotti during that remarkable season, but also added a lovely little Coppa Italia number to his above average year, a feat that his strike partners failed to achieve.

Importantly for Kyle though, is the matter of focusing on that season alone, with these three attacking talents having slightly different careers since then…

Sticking to this campaign, Dybala has found the back of the net eight times in the league, yet has seemingly saved his amazing talents for the Champions League stage. Belotti meanwhile sits top of the Serie A goalscoring chart, with an immense 25 goals.

Now….Lafferty. Where do we begin? The six-foot-four Northern Irish legend has barely featured for Norwich City this season, proving just how different his career has turned since his goal scoring days in Palermo.

Why then was Lafferty sold, and Dybala and Belotti kept on at the club? Oh, simply because Palermo President Maurizio Zamparini explained that “He is an out-of-control womaniser, an Irishman without rules. He is someone who disappears for a week and goes on the hunt for women in Milan.” No big deal though…

The controversial forward has undeniable potential and has proven it time and time again, mainly for his beloved Northern Ireland on the national stage. But it is somewhat of a tragic tale as he barely gets too warm a bench for Norwich, while his former team-mate scores braces against Barcelona in the Champions League, and one thing that I just can’t let go is not knowing whether the two VERY different guys keep in touch or not…

We cannot, however, mention the promotion of Palermo back to where they belong without top scorer Abel Hernandez, who even managed to notch two more goals than the main man himself, reaching the target in six fewer games just to rub it in to his lanky team-mate.

It really does make you think doesn’t it? How can the two legends that drove Gattuso’s men back into the Serie A fade so dramatically from the spotlight, while their two prodigies have now moved on to much bigger and better things and have left the old men in their dust.

The enigma that is Kyle Lafferty has had somewhat of a stuttered career, but nobody, NOBODY, can take that season away from him. The big man truly was a remarkable spectacle in Palermo’s successful campaign, and it’s just such a shame that his career has gone on a downward spiral ever since.

Here’s hoping to a bright future for the former Rangers man who, at 29, may even outwit the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane in years to come.