Vincenzo Grifo: Who is Freiburg's set-piece master and the Bundesliga's record Italian goalscorer?
He's a set-maestro, Freiburg's talisman and the Bundesliga's record Italian goalscorer - but what else is there to know about Vincenzo Grifo? bundesliga.com has the lowdown...
Data correct as of 8 March 2023
Position: Attacking midfielder/ winger
Country: Italy (eight caps/ four goals)
Born in Pforzheim in south-west Germany but with an Italian background, Grifo had to invest plenty of patience and dedication before taking his place in the limelight. A self-declared late bloomer in youth football, his performances for the Karslruhe U19s earned him the chance to train at Hoffenheim's recently opened state-of-the-art academy, in his late teens.
Grifo made his Bundesliga debut with the Sinsheim outfit as a substitute in a 3-3 draw against Greuther Fürth in October 2012, but with first-team playing time limited, he accumulated invaluable playing experience across loan spells at Dynamo Dresden and FSV Frankfurt. Cue a call from Freiburg, whom Grifo duly helped gain promotion to the Bundesliga after producing 14 goals and 15 assists in the second tier in 2015/16. He followed that up by scoring six goals and racking up 11 assists in his maiden top-flight campaign.
That kind of form brought attention from other leading Bundesliga sides - with Borussia Mönchengladbach and former employers Hoffenheim both acquiring his services for a season. Nowhere was he happier or more effective than in Freiburg, though.
After rejoining the Black forest outfit for the third time in 2019,Grifo finished the 2020/21 and 2021/22 Bundesliga seasons as the club's top goalscorer. A strike in a 2-0 win over Werder Bremen in October 2022 saw Grifo become the highest-scoring Italian in Bundesliga history, surpassing ex-Bayern Munich man Luca Toni with his 39th goal. His 12 goals 23 matches into 2022/23, meanwhile, marks a new personal best.
Grifo's form has seen him called up for Italy - and he scored his first goals for the Azzurri with a brace in a friendly against Estonia in November 2020. The Freiburg playmaker netted twice again and provided an assist as Italy beat Albania 3-1 in a friendly in November 2022, forcefully stating his case for further international action.
Plays a bit like: Hakan Calhanoglu
Just like the former Bayer Leverkusen and Hamburg midfielder now of Inter Milan, Grifo makes up for a slight lack of pace and physicality with deadly accuracy, particularly from set pieces. The Italian has made a name for himself as a dead-ball specialist, as evinced by his 18 free-kicks that resulted in goals in 2021/22. He's also clinical from the penalty spot, scoring 14 of 16 attempts in the Bundesliga.
Watch: All Vincenzo Grifo's free-kick goals in the Bundesliga
Did you know?
Grifo probably watches a lot of Calhanoglu. Despite being born in and spending his entire playing career in Germany, he grew up as an Inter fan.
"I was a fan of Inter Milan as a child, it’s true," he told Gazzetta dello Sport ahead of Freiburg's UEFA Europa League last-16 tie with Juventus. "I still watch them regularly, but I'm much less of a 'fanatic' nowadays."
What they're saying
"He has extraordinary abilities. You have to be delighted at the stadium when someone has a right foot like that. He's Freiburg through and through by now. A real idol for the fans and the kids." - Freiburg head coach Christian Streich
"Vincenzo is an extraordinary boy. Grifo is a great player and in the Bundesliga, he is scoring many goals. He has important qualities." - Italy coach Roberto Mancini
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