Italy has produced some of the biggest stars in football and here we learn about the top 10 best Italian footballers of all time.
10. Sandro Mazzola
Mazzola, an offensive midfielder, spent his whole career at Inter. He and his country won the Euros in 1968. Along with Helenio Herrera as a coach and great players like Luis Suarez, Mazzola helped establish Inter as the most successful club team of the 1960s. With them, he won four Serie A titles, including two in a row in 1965 and 1966. He scored twice against Real Madrid in the final to help Inter win the first continental championship in 1964.
Mazzola was dexterous, swift, and strategically astute. He also put in a lot of defensive effort. Herrera eventually promoted him to the position of right forward. He has 70 caps for Italy and has 22 goals. After winning the Euros, the Italians had high hopes for the 1970 World Cup. They did fantastically well all the way to the final. Valcareggi alternated between Gianni and Mazzola, with the latter regularly filling in for the former. With a 4-1 victory, Brazil emerged victorious. Mazzola served as the club’s captain from 1970 until his retirement in 1977.
9. Francesco Totti
During his 26-year reign in Rome, Francesco was the first one-club guy and became the essence of Roma. Despite being a brilliant enough player to have been a part of a stronger team than Roma, Totti is one of the most illustrious players in history. He turned down Real Madrid’s offer, and his name will go down in Rome’s football history. Totti is noted for his offensive versatility.
He was recognised for his superb vision and ball control and could play anywhere from the front line to number 10 or even farther down the field. His ability to influence play in midfield is a result of his passing range, vision, and finishing abilities. He was an integral part of Italy’s Euro 2000 and 2004 campaigns, as well as the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.
After nearly guiding his team to victory in 2000, they were defeated in the final by France 2-1, and he was forced to endure a miserable World Cup in 2002 until ultimately winning in 2006. Italy beat France 5-3 with Luca Toni in the final, as the two teams teamed up to assault the final. Following his retirement, he became Roma’s club director.
8. Fabio Cannavaro
In a one-on-one situation, Fabio Cannavaro was one of the most difficult players to beat. His physical presence was only equaled by his timing and anticipation while tackling, which made him the finest defender of his generation and saw him play for many of Europe’s top teams.
He was a key figure in Parma’s 1999 UEFA Cup victory, as well as Real Madrid’s two La Liga crowns and Italy’s 2006 World Cup victory. Many people in the game, as well as spectators, admired his calmness under pressure. This all-around performance propelled him to the top of his generation’s defensive ranks, earning him the 2006 FIFA World Player of the Year title — the first and only time a defender has won the coveted accolade.
7. Andrea Pirlo
Andrea Pirlo was a wizard with the ball at his feet and was one of the finest midfield conductors of his period. He had near-perfect technique and could choose a pass across the pitch with ease. His ability to hit the ball with tremendous curve and flare earned him a spot on the highlight reel for fans.
Pirlo was capable of incredible free kicks, cheeky panenka penalties, and outrageous stepovers. It was because of these abilities that he became a star for both AC Milan and Juventus, earning six Serie A titles and three Player of the Year awards throughout his career. Pirlo also won the 2006 World Cup, meaning that he won nearly everything there was to win.
6. Roberto Baggio
Perhaps the greatest offensive Italian player of all time is Roberto Baggio. During an era of supremacy throughout the 1980s and 1990s, his vision, creativity, and finishing were unsurpassed. He went through the Caldogno and L.R. Academies. Vincenza was signed by Fiorentina for PS1.5 million in 1985. That was a hefty price to pay for an 18-year-old prodigy. Despite being injured during his time in Florence, he is regarded as the team’s top player.
His remarkable performances earned him a world-record PS8 million transfer to Juventus in 1990. He was given the coveted number 10 shirt by Michel Platini. He did certainly become one of the best players in the world during his five seasons at Turin. Despite only winning one Serie A championship and never winning the World Cup, his style of play influenced generations.
5. Alessandro del Piero
Alessandro del Piero was perhaps the greatest Italian player of all time in terms of technical ability. Throughout his career, he mostly played as a striker in deep-lying positions. Del Piero was spotted by Juventus in 1993 and signed for EUR2.58 million after barely making it onto Padova’s senior team in Serie B.
In 19 excellent seasons in Turin, he won six Serie A championships and one Coppa Italia. In 2005 and 2006, he also won league titles, which were later revoked owing to the Calciopoli scandal. Del Piero was a member of a squad that comprised Nedved, Trezeguet, and Nedved, among others. The Turin giants smashed their way through the second level and were promoted to Serie A in 2007.
He is Italy’s tenth most capped player with 91 appearances. He assisted on 27 goals, including the 2006 World Cup semi-final goal against Germany. He also scored a penalty against France in the final. Del Piero announced his retirement in 2015, after playing for Sydney FC and Delhi Dynamos in the latter phases of his career.
4. Gianluigi Buffon
Buffon’s rapid responses and incredible agility have made him one of the finest goalkeepers of his time, as well as a natural leader who has inspired many of his colleagues. Buffon’s success has extended to all aspects of the game, as he has won 10 Serie A titles with Juventus and was a key member of the 2006 World Cup-winning team. With 176 appearances for his country, Buffon holds the all-time record for most appearances in a period that few will be able to match in the future.
3. Paolo Maldini
Paolo Maldini has established himself as one of the finest defenders of any generation, as well as one of the greatest Italian footballers ever. Maldini was naturally suited to play anywhere in the backline, and he was equally at ease as a full-back as he was in the middle. He was a shockingly speedy centre-back who caught many strikers off guard and was one of his generation’s top tacklers.
Maldini, who isn’t scared to score goals, may also be a threat from set-pieces because of his exceptional aerial skills. As a result of all of this, many people looked up to Maldini, who captained both Italy and AC Milan for most of his career. Maldini is one of the most accomplished defenders in football history, having won seven Serie A titles and five Champions League crowns.
2. Franco Baresi
Franco Baresi was one of the rare defenders who could lead the line as he did. He may not have been the largest player on the field, but he was one of the best defenders of all time. He was a genuine anchor for his side, able to gently manage the ball and deposit it without making any blunders.
He was always noticeable, and his sense of placement was unrivalled by any of his opponents. Baresi’s abilities allowed him to be a member of the 1982 World Cup-winning side, as well as guiding younger players on home soil when they reached the 1990 World Cup final four.
1. Giuseppe Meazza
Meazza may be unknown to modern football fans, yet he was instrumental in their World Cup triumphs in 1934 and 1938. On and off the field, Meazza was a show-off. He spent much of his career as an all-out striker and an inside forward, and is recognised for his shooting, passing, and heading.
Meazza came via Inter’s youth system. In his first Serie A season, he established a record with 31 league goals and won the title with Inter, which was also the league’s founding year. Two years later, he won it again. Due to an injury in 1938/39, Meazza was transferred to AC Milan for the following season. In 1946, he returned to Inter as the player-manager after playing for Juventus and Atalanta.
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