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5 best Italian footballers of all time

Andrea Pirlo
Andrea Pirlo
Shambhu Ajith
FEATURED WRITER

Italy is home to some of the greatest footballers to have ever played the game. The Azzurri have not been able to replicate their yesteryear heroics in recent times but they continue to produce some of the most technically proficient footballers.

Italy is the second-most successful team in FIFA World Cups, having won the title four times. Their last World Cup win came in 2006 but the Italians have not come anywhere close to recreating that kind of success in recent times.

But Roberto Mancini has a deep talent pool to draw from at Euro 2020 and Italy are certainly one of the strongest sides in the competition. As always, their defensive strength and midfield artistry is a critical part of their game.

Italy has been one of the most dominant teams on the international stage in the last century

It's near impossible to compile a list such as this as it is difficult to reach a common consensus on these topics. Without further ado, let's take a look at the five best Italian footballers of all time.


#5 Roberto Baggio

Roberto Baggio and Alessandro Del Piero
Roberto Baggio and Alessandro Del Piero

Roberto Baggio is one of the most recognizable figures in the history of Italian football. Inarguably one of the finest attacking players of all time, Il Divino Codino (The Divine Ponytail) was incredible at both playmaking and scoring goals.

Michel Platini famously described Baggio as 'nine and a half' due to his ability to score goals and create them. He was neither a pure number nine nor a pure number 10 but a great mixture of the two.

He could play anywhere across the frontline thanks to his tactical intelligence and technical ability. Baggio became a star at Fiorentina but broke their hearts when he left to join bitter-rivals Juventus at the peak of his career.

He won two Serie A titles in his career, first with Juventus and then with AC Milan. He won the Ballon d'Or and the FIFA Player of the Year Award in 1993. Baggio finished second in the Ballon d'Or race a year later as well.

Unfortunately for Baggio, he will forever bear the weight of missing a crucial penalty in the shootout in the 1994 World Cup final against Brazil.

#4 Andrea Pirlo

Semi-final Germany v Italy - World Cup 2006
Semi-final Germany v Italy - World Cup 2006

The younger generation will be familiar with Andrea Pirlo's heroics. The midfield maestro is one of those unique players who have played for AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus and is still adored by fans of all three clubs.

Pirlo thrived as a deep-lying playmaker and his technical ability and passing range were exemplary. So much so that every time Pirlo got on the ball, he made it look like he had more time than the rest of the players. Inter Milan could never really bring the best out of him after signing him in 1998. They subsequently sold him to cross-city rivals AC Milan.

Pirlo became a fixture in the Rossoneri setup and went on to win two Champions League titles and two Scudettos with them. Nicknamed 'the Architect', Pirlo's playmaking skills from deep were unparalleled. He subsequently copped a move to Juventus where he won four consecutive Serie A titles and wrote his name into the Bianconeri folklore as well.

He was also one of the main creative forces behind Italy's World Cup triumph in 2006. Known for his vision and technical proficiency, Pirlo is one of football's modern day greats.

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Edited by Shambhu Ajith
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