Strength, pace, power and a bit of magic, that’s what best Serie A strikers of all time have, but who are these players?!
Italian football is so often known for its great defensive tactics that many of its teams have utilized successfully throughout the years. But Italy and its numerous clubs could not have been so successful if they only knew how to defend, because to win games you have to score goals and to score goals against some of the best defensive teams in the world..well you just have to be a world-class striker, as are all of the best Serie A strikers of all time in our list.
As we will find out on our list, Serie A best strikers ever are each a different kind of striker. Some preferred to use pace and skill, others strength and positioning and for some that style may even have changed over the years as they got older but the only factor that they all share is that they always knew how to score. So let’s analyze these players even further and see who they are:
We decided to not rank these players in any order but rather choose players who were among the very best of their era and more importantly had an impact on Serie A and Italian football in general. Let’s see who made the list:
Udinese’s long serving captain certainly deserves a spot among the all-time best strikers in Serie A. despite playing for Udinese for the majority of his career, Di Natale made his professional debut for Empoli in Serie B and after helping them secure promotion to Serie A but also being relegated again, he joined Udinese in 2004 where he stayed for 12 seasons before retiring from football in 2016. He managed to reach double figures in goals in 11 of those 12 seasons.
Di Natale’s relatively small stature and great pace allowed him to be able to run behind the defenders and receive the ball in excellent scoring positions, which made him a nightmare for defenders. Apart from being technically gifted, Di Natale had a great shooting ability too, which saw him score from long-range shots, volleys and free-kicks many times throughout his career. Di Natale was quite the late-bloomer as his first 20+ goals-season only came when he was 33, but he enjoyed several high scoring seasons after that to make up for the fact.
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With 209 goals in 445 Serie A appearances for Empoli and Udinese, Di Natale is the 6th highest goal scorer in Serie A history and one of the best Serie A strikers of all time. he has won the Capocannonieri twice in 2010 and 2011 and has also represented Italy in 42 games in which he scored 11 times. Di Natale never played for a big club and yet has found his way to our list of best strikers in Serie A History which speaks volumes about his qualities as a player.
In 1984 one of the best players of all time, Diego Armando Maradona arrived in Italy from Barcelona. He was at the peak of his powers and he spent his best years of playing football at Napoli where he helped the southern team upset the established order of the powerful northern Italy teams like Inter Milan, AC Milan and Juventus and win several titles.
Maradona instantly became a fan favorite on his arrival in Italy. The people of Naples were under extreme financial stress and felt like Italy was separated into two halves with the northern half being financially well off and the south being relatively poor. This disparity was felt in football as well as no Southern team had ever won the Serie A, but things improved drastically with Maradona as he helped Napoli finish 3rd in his first season at the club.
In 1986 Maradona helped his country win the World Cup for the second time. Maradona was named the best player of the tournament, had the second most goals and highest amount of assists, completely dominating the World Cup. He came back to Napoli and continued his excellent form by helping them become champions of Italy for the first time ever. They capitalized on that success by winning the Coppa Italia in the same season.
He continued his good form and won the Capocannonieri the following season and was instrumental in Napoli winning the UEFA Cup the season after in 1988. Napoli immediately followed that success with another Serie A title, which would be their last in their history. Maradona scored 81 goals in 188 Serie A matches for Napoli and was their record goal scorer with 115 goals until 2017. having one of the greatest footballers ever play in the Serie A certainly helped with the prestige of the league and helped Serie A prosper in the decade that followed after, leaving Maradona with the legacy of being one of the best Serie A strikers of all time.
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The amazing Silvio Piola is the highest goal scorer in Serie A history and the man that all these best strikers in Serie A History have chased but never caught. He alongside players like Colaussi and Meazza helped Italy win the 1938 World Cup with him scoring 2 goals in the final and becoming the second best player and goal scorer of the competition. He has also won the Serie A best goal scorer award twice.
Piola, who is considered to be one of the best Italian footballers ever, played for several teams like Pro Vercelli, Lazio, Juventus and Novara but despite playing for different teams throughout his career he never won any trophies of worth with them. Even with Juve he only managed to twice become runner-ups to the Serie A and not win it. But he never failed to do the thing that he was good at and that was scoring goals.
Piola scored 274 goals in 537 Serie A appearances with a ratio of 0.51 goals-per-game but he was so much more than a goal scorer as he was used in other areas of the pitch, as a playmaker or a wingerm because he had great technical abilities and passing skills. In today’s game it’s doubtful that any player would reach the number of goals he scored in the Serie A and that’s an achievement that certainly puts him amongst the best Serie A strikers of all time.
One of the few Ballon d’Or winners on our list of best Serie A strikers of all time is the Ukrainian legend Andriy Shevchenko. Sheva played for several clubs across Europe but his time in Italy was solely spent at Milan, where he practically won everything there was. He joined AC Milan from Dynamo Kyiv in 1999 and spent a total of 8 seasons in Italy. Sheva was part of one of the most successful eras in AC Milan history and helped Rossoneri win multiple domestic and European trophies.
Sheva twice scored 24 goals in his first 2 Serie A season but it wasn’t until 2002-03 season that he tasted success with Milan. They reached two finals that year and won both as they first won the Coppa Italia title and then went on to beat Juventus in the Champions League final. Shevchenko scored 24 goals in the league as Milan won the Serie A, the following season in 2004. He finished the year winning the prestigious Ballon d’Or trophy.
Andriy Shevchenko was a quick and powerful forward who also had great ball-carrying ability. He was able to operate anywhere in the attack, either on the wings or as a center-forward but he was usually used in the latter position because of his great goal scoring and shooting ability. He was very much a modern striker, versatile in the things he offered his team going forward, which is why he is one of the all-time best strikers in Serie A.
Shevchenko appeared in 226 Serie A matches scoring 127 goals, he never won Capocannonieri award for being the top goalscorer in Serie A but he managed to score more than 25 goals-a-season in all competitions in 5 of the 8 years he spent at Milan. As one of the best best Serie A strikers of all time, Shevchenko will be remembered for his consistency at the top level and the devotion he showed to AC Milan.
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One of the greatest Italian players of all time and Inter Milan highest goal scorer ever, Giuseppe Meazza is another Italian amongst Serie A best strikers of all time. since he played for both Inter Milan and AC Milan during his career and because of his legendary status, the home stadium of both AC Milan and Inter was officially renamed after him in 1980, which shows the enormity of the impact that he had on Italian football to receive such a status.
Known for his technical abilities, Meazza was described by some to be even more elegant than Pele in playing football. He would often dribble past many opponents until he was in a scoring position, then he would easily put it past the keeper since he was a deadly finisher in front of the goal. The majority of his career in Serie A was with Inter where he became their all-time highest goal scorer. At Inter he became the youngest player to reach 100 Serie A goals, being 23 at the time. an impressive record that he still holds today.
Alongside being one of the best Serie A strikers of all time, Meazza is also one of the best World Cup players of all time since he was able to win two World Cup trophies with Italy in 1934 and 1938. he is also Italy’s second highest national goal scorer, just behind Luigi Riva, with 33 goals in 53 games. Meazza won 3 Serie A titles with Inter Milan as well as a Coppa Italia. He also won the Capocannonieri, which is the award for best Serie A goal scorers 3 times. The 1934 World Cup Golden Ball winner scored 216 goals in 367 Serie A appearances with a goal-per-game ratio of 0.59.
There are some who would argue that if it wasn’t for the blood clot he suffered at age 29, Meazza would be even more successful but even now there are few players who could rival his achievements and status in world football which speaks volumes about his qualities. Meazza deservedly has a place on our list of best Serie A strikers of all time as he should be on any list of best forwards of all time.
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The legendary Gunnar Nordahl is AC Milan’s highest goal scorer of all time and also someone that has won the Capocannonieri more times than any other player (5 times) in Serie A history. The Swedish international came to AC Milan a year after he led his country to a Gold Medal in 1948 Olympics and he would later form the same attacking trio that played for Sweden in Milan as well, with Gren and Liedholm.
Nordahl played in 10 Serie A seasons, 8 of which were with AC Milan. He won the Serie A top goal scorer award 5 times in those 8 seasons at Milan. The 1949-50 season in particular saw him score 35 goals which would become a record for most goals scored in a single season until Higuain broke that record in 2015-16 season. Nordahl won the Serie A with AC Milan 2 times in 1951 and 1955.
Known for being one of the most prolific and most lethal strikers in the history of football, Nordahl was a goal machine who actually has the best goals-per-game ratio amongst the best Serie A strikers of all time with 0.77 goals-per-game, having scored 225 goals in 291 Serie A matches for AC Milan and AS Roma. He is the third highest goal scorer in the history of Serie A, only behind Pioli and Totti. Because of his success in Serie A as a foreigner, Italian clubs saw the opportunity to bring in foreign players which helped the league expand considerably.
We previously wrote about Del Piero’s career at Juventus when we named him the best Juventus player of all time. Del Piero spent 19 seasons at Juventus and played a huge part in their success over the course of those two decades, which was full of incredible highs like winning the Champions League and disappointing lows, like being relegated to Serie B in the aftermath of Calciopoli scandal. Del Piero stayed with Juventus through thick and thin and captained them for 11 years as one of the best strikers in Serie A History.
Del Piero was never an out-and-out striker or even a playmaker. He always played a role in between the two as a supportive striker which played alongside a more natural finisher like Trezeguet. He was technically gifted and was also capable of creating a goal out of nothing. Perhaps his most prominent feature as a player was his ability to score goals from Free-kicks or penalties which he did 106 times during his career.
As Juventus’ highest goal scorer Del Piero scored 290 times in 705 appearances, 188 of which were in 502 Serie A appearances, which makes him the joint 8th highest goal scorer in Serie A history. He has won 6 Serie A titles, 1 Coppa Italia and a Champions League title with Juventus and won the World Cup with Italy in 2006.
Pinturicchio was part of a forward line consisting of players like Baggio and Vialli who led Juventus to their new era of success in the mid-90s. Del Piero carried that winning mentality with him throughout the years and led Juve to success in the two decades that followed after. For his impact on the Italy’s most successful team as well as Italy’s national team, Del Piero will forever be one of the best Serie A strikers of all time if not the greatest.
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You know a striker is doing his job right when he is more often called by his nickname Batigol rather than his real name Gabriel Batistuta. The revered Argentinian was born to do only one thing and that was to score goals. he is considered to be one of the greatest footballers of all time as well as being one of Serie A best strikers of all time. his time in Serie A was mostly spent at Fiorentina but he also played for Roma and Inter Milan too.
After playing for 3 of the most important clubs in his country (Newell Old Boys, River Plate and Boca Juniors), Batistuta moved to Italy at the age of 22. His destination was Florence where he would spend the best years of his career there. At Fiorentina, Batistuta scored for fun and became a living legend after he stayed with the club in 1994 despite their relegation and helped them secure promotion to Serie A, the following year. He was instrumental in Fiorentina’s Coppa Italia win in 1996 after which Fiorentina fans erected a statue of him in the city.
As a player Batigol is considered to be one of the most complete forwards of all time since he excelled at every ability that would make a player a goal threat. He was quick, strong, good in the air, great with the ball at his feet and more importantly he had a shooting ability that is rarely seen in football. He could strike the ball with the utmost amount of power and yet with a precision that would make sure it would find the net, even from the most acute angles or from volleys.
Batistuta is Argentina’s top World Cup goal scorer and he was their highest goal scorer in all competition with 54 goals in 77 matches until he was overtaken by Lionel Messi in 2016. His move to Roma and subsequent partnership with Francesco Totti resulted in the 2000-01 Serie A title win. Batistuta scored 184 Serie A goals in 318 appearances and in 1999 was placed 3rd in the FIFA’s World Player of the Year award. As one of the best Serie A strikers of all time, there just won’t be a more complete center-forward than Batigol anytime soon.
The Divine Ponytail as the Italian fans used to call him played for many big teams in Italy and became one of the greatest Italian Players of all time as well as one of Serie A best strikers ever. As the 1993 Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year winner, Roberto Baggio was considered to be one of the best players of his generation which led to his enormous success and fame throughout the 90s.
Baggio’s Serie A career started with Fiorentina, after he joined them from Serie C1 side Vicenza, he spent five seasons at Fiorentina before Joining Juventus in 1990 where he, alongside Vialli and later Del Piero, helped Juve win Serie A, Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup. He then joined AC Milan where he won another Serie A title in 1995-96 season. Then after a successful season at Bologna where he scored 20 goals at, he joined Inter Milan and eventually joined Brescia in 2000 at the age of 33 and stayed with them until he retired in 2004.
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Like Totti, Baggio was more a playmaker rather than a striker but he could play both roles because of his abilities. He could dribble past multiple defenders and end up scoring by walking the ball into goal. He was a great crosser and a free-kick taker and could score from long range shots and volleys. His great passing ability made him a great playmaker too.
He showcased all these abilities the best in the 1990 and 1994 World Cups where Italy became 3rd and 2nd respectively, with the 1994 World Cup in particular being called by some Baggio’s World Cup which ended up in heartbreak as Baggio himself missed his penalty in the final as Italy lost to Brazil in the penalty kicks.
Baggio who scored 205 goals in 452 Serie A appearances, influenced many great Italian players that he played with, like Totti, Del Piero and Andrea Pirlo, and he was one of the reasons Italy once again came to the forefront of European football in the 90s. he is undoubtedly one of the Serie A best strikers of all time as well as one of its best playmakers.
The King of Rome needs no introduction as many football fans know of his qualities and his exploits in his 25-year career at AS Roma. His loyalty to his childhood club and the devotion he gave to the club season after season, even when he was in his 40s, is second to none. he is undoubtedly amongst the 3 best Italian footballers ever in any list you’ll find and he is one of the finest strikers that the modern game has seen, so he is certain to get a spot amongst our list of all-time best strikers in Serie A.
Totti made his first appearance for Roma in 1992 as a 16-year-old. Although he didn’t win many team awards with Roma, he played a big part in all of them. With Totti, Roma won 2 Coppa Italia, 2 Supercoppa Italiana and more importantly a single Serie A title in 2000-01 season, which was the club’s third Serie A title. He also became World Cup champion in 2006 by playing a big role in Italy’s campaign in the tournament.
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On an individual level though, Totti’s achievements are too many to count in this article but suffice it to say that he is one of the most decorated Italian players on individual level, with several Serie A player of the year or goal of the season award as well as 1 European Golden Shoe award in 2007.
Il Capitano was one of the most technically gifted players of all-time, capable of dribbling past even the best defenders. He was a poet with the ball at his feet and often created the most beautiful of assists or goals. despite being one of the best playmakers of all time, Totti was used as a striker in the mid-2000s. he would often drop deep in the midfield to pick the ball up which led him to be the first modern “false-9” striker, a role which Lionel Messi later perfected at Barcelona.
But whether Francesco Totti was used as a playmaker or a false-9, he always scored goals and assisted them, constantly helping Roma pick up vital points or win cup matches. His 250 goals in 618 Serie A appearances, which makes him the 2nd Serie A top scorer of all time, is a proof of that. For redefining the role of a striker and the impact that it had over the Italian and European football Francesco Totti will forever be one of Serie A best strikers of all time.