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Top Facts about Silvio Piola, the Best Serie A Goalscorer Ever

Sun 16 January 2022 | 17:30

No one has ever scored as much as Silvio Piola did in Serie A. He had a tough shot and was very strong in an overhead kick, but he never won a club trophy.

Silvio Piola was born on 29 September 1913 and died 4 on October 1996. He was an Italian football player who played as a forward. Silvio Piola is known as a greatly noticeable figure in the history of Italian football due to several records he set, and he is considered as one of the best forwards of his generation, as well as one of the best Italian players of all time.

Silvio Piola was part of the squad that won the 1933-35 Central European International Cup and the squad that won the 1938 FIFA World Cup with Italy, scoring two goals in the final, ending the tournament as the second best player and the second highest goal scorer.

Top Facts about Silvio Piola, the Best Serie A Goalscorer Ever

One of the top facts about Silvio Piola is that he is third in the all-time goal scoring records of the Italy national team. Moreover, he is the best goal scorer in the Italian first league history, with 290 goals, including 274 in Serie A and 16 in Divisione Nazionale, and also in Serie A history.

Silvio Piola played in 566 Serie A matches, placing him fourth on the all-time list for appearances in Italy's league.

Silvio Piola is the only footballer to have the honour of being the all-time Serie A top goal scorer of three different teams (Pro Vercelli, Lazio and Novara). Piola is also the highest scoring Italian player in all tournaments, with 364 goals, including 391 of his goals in the Divisione Nazionale and for the Italy B team during his professional career, including friendlies, Piola scored 682 goals.

One of the top facts about Silvio Piola is that after his death two of Italian stadiums were renamed after him: one in Novara in 1997 and another in Vercelli in 1998.

In 2011, he was posthumously inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame.

Silvio Piola quick information

  • Name in home country:

    Silvio Gioacchino Italo Piola

  • Date of birth/Age:

     29 Sepember, 1913

  • Place of birth:

     Robbio

  • Citizenship:

     Italy

  • Date of death:

     04.10.1996, at the age of 83

  • Position:

     Centre-Forward

  • Former International:

     Italy

  • International games/Goals:

     34/30

Silvio Piola early years

Silvio Piola was born in Robbio, in the province of Pavia, on 29 September 1913. He is still the top goal scorer in the Italian top league with 290 goals, divided between 16 in the National Division and 274 in Serie A. He is also the third best scorer ever in the national team with 30 goals, behind Gigi Riva and Giuseppe Meazza. Also Piola is the greatest forward in the top class for Pro Vercelli, Novara and Lazio. He is also the total best goal scorer of all time by the latter.

Silvio Piola's football professional career began in Vercelli. His older brother Serafino, who was also a great talent, was forced to give up his sporting profession due to a visual deficiency that forced him to wear glasses. His uncle Giuseppe Cavanna, brother of his mother, played instead as a goalkeeper in Pro Vercelli, and had a crucial role in starting Silvio's professional career. 

After his first games with the Veloces youth team, Silvio Piola signed his first actual contract with the Pro. As he was interested in hunting, on that occasion he received a rifle as a gift from his father and bought himself a pointer breed dog.

Silvio Piola club career

One of the

top facts about Silvio Piola

is that he began his professional career with Italian club Pro Vercelli, making his Serie A debut against Bologna on 16 February 1930, netting 13 goals in his first year, at the age of 17. Four games in the 1929-1930 season and two goals in the friendly against the Red Star of Paris, the following year he was already a starter and immediately went to double figures for goals scored. 

In Vercelli Piola began to show off extraordinary technical and human qualities. On October 18, 1931 he got a parcel fracture in the tibio-peronal talar region, they gave him a 40-day prognosis but he returned to the field two weeks later and scored against Triestina. On November 22 he created a poker of networks at the Alassendria, rising to the headlines for the first time in the national news. Piola was an extraordinary striker, with great technique and extraordinary athleticism, with a great shot from distance and a formidable overhead kick in his repertoire.

On 29 October 1933, Silvio Piola scored six goals, the joint-most goals scored in a single football match in Serie A, in a 7–2 victory over Fiorentina. He went on to score 51 goals in 127 appearances in Serie A for Pro Vercelli.

In 1934, he joined Lazio, who had been on the receiving end of his first Serie A goal on 11 November 1930. Silvio Piola played in the team for the next nine seasons. He was the Serie A top goal scorer twice while at Lazio, in 1937 and 1943. Silvio was Lazio's highest all-time leading goal scorer with 149 goals until it was surpassed in 2021 by Ciro Immobile.

After he left Lazio, Silvio Piola spent war-scarred 1944 at Torino, where he managed to score a wonderful 27 goals in just 23 matches. Near the end of the World War II, he moved to Novara. Then, between 1945 and 1947, Piola played for Juventus, before he moved back to Novara, where he played for seven more seasons.

In his final years with Novara, Silvio Piola became the oldest player in Serie A history to score two goals in a single league game, an achievement which he managed on 1 February 1953, at the age of 39 years, 4 months and 2 days, against his previous club Lazio; the record was not broken until 20 April 2016, when Francesco Totti came onto the pitch and scored twice to help Roma come from behind to beat Torino 3–2 at home, at the age of 39 years, 6 months and 23 days. Until now, Silvio Piola is still currently the best all-time goalscorer in Serie A.

Silvio Piola international career

Silvio Piola made his debut for Italy national team against Austria on 24 March 1935, when he also netted his first goal for the team. He won the FIFA World Cup in 1938, when he netted two of Italy's goals in the 4–2 win over Hungary.

Silvio Piola finished the tournament as the second top goal scorer and was named the second best player, also earning a place in the Team of the Tournament.

One of the top facts about Silvio Piola is that he played in 34 matches for Italy and scored 30 goals from 1935 to 1952, a record that would certainly have been better if not for the interruption caused by World War II. He served as the national side's captain from 1940 until 1947.

Silvio Piola made his last international appearance in 1952, when Italy drew 1–1 with England. Piola is now Italy's third highest goalscorer of all-time, behind only Giuseppe Meazza, and Luigi Riva. He also co-holds, with Riva, the national team's record for most goals on opposition soil with 13.

Silvio Piola as a manager

A

top fact about Silvio Piola

 is that he played his last football match against England at the national level on 18 May 1952.

Then, while he was still a player of Novara, he was called to be part of the technical commission of the national team that would play in the 1954 FIFA World Cup, as an assistant to Lajos Czeizler. That FIFA World Cup ended with a disappointing elimination in the first round for Italy.

Then Silvio Piola was hired by Cagliari, in Serie B, obtaining good results in the first year and a fifth place in the second year, only to be recalled in place of Carlo Rigotti in the 1956-57 season and being sacked after just 8 games of the next one. For many years, he was a manager of the FIGC with the role of observer.

Silvio Piola style of play

Considered as one of the best forwards of all time, Silvio Piola was broadly well-known for his goalscoring ability during his professional career, and his eye for goal. 

He was considered to be a modern and experienced player during his time, as he used his physical features, cleverness, and control to play with his back to goal, and lay off the ball for teammates in order to provide them with assists.

Piola's vision, work-rate, and technical skill, as well as his passing ability, made him a tactically adaptable football player, who was able to play in several positions, and he was deployed on the wing, in midfield, or as a creative advanced playmaker or second forward on occasion. 

Silvio Piola mostly shined as a centre-forward, though; his speed, positional intelligence, offensive movement, and opportunism enabled him to lose his markers with his attacking runs and receive his team-mates' passes or pounce on loose balls in the box.

Piola was also well-known for his powerful and precise finishing capability with his head and both feet, from any position on the pitch, which made him a prolific goal scorer during his professional career. 

Due to his swiftness and athletic talent, Silvio Piola also excelled in the air, and he was talented of scoring spectacular acrobatic goals from volleys and bicycle kicks. 

In spite of his talent and his character, he was sometimes accused of diving during his career. Unlike his legendary international team-mate, club rival, and friend Giuseppe Meazza, nevertheless, with whom he was often compared, Silvio Piola was much more reserved both on and off the pitch, and he preferred to score through competence and pragmatism rather than showiness. On top of his playing aptitude and prolific goal scoring, Piola also stood out for his longevity during his career.

Silvio Piola goal with hand

In 1939, Silvio Piola netted a goal with his hand to England 47 years before Diego Armando Maradona scored a goal like Piola’s.

Silvio Piola records

Over the course of football history, Italian football has had the honour of being home to some of the greatest goal scorers we have ever seen – including

Giuseppe Meazza

, Gunnar Nordahl, 

Marco van Basten

Andriy Shevchenko

Gabriel Batistuta

 and 

Francesco Totti

 – but there is one player who often seems to be ignored in spite of topping the all-time goal-scoring list.

One of the

top facts about Silvio Piola

 is that he had a habit of breaking records, and eventually he broke another. The next one was just as impressive and signified that Silvio was not a striker to take lightly. In 1933, Fiorentina took on Pro Vercelli and it only took the hitman 60 seconds to open his account for the game. It would be his first goal of six. He would go on to become the first player in Italian history to score six goals in a single game, a record that only one person would equal – the great Omar Sívori of

Juventus

.

We can think about it, scoring six goals in a league game is incredibly impressive but the fact that it hasn’t been beaten says a lot about the quality of Piola. None of the great strikers to have graced Calcio have come close to breaking his records, yet this is the man few mention – certainly outside of Italy, anyway.

Silvio Piola is, statistically, the greatest striker in Italian football history, scoring 274 Serie A goals across 26 years in Calcio. It’s a record that has still yet to be broken to this day and is unlikely to ever be beaten. Piola is one of two players to score two hat-tricks in the same game and is level with Nordahl on most braces scored, on 49.

Some of his records have been beaten or equaled since his retirement, but he still holds the most sought-after one. His 274 Serie A goals look unlikely to be beaten for years to come – especially in a game where players move so freely between leagues. He may have not been the most glamorous, but he was certainly effective and should forever be seen as one of Calcio’s greatest players.

Silvio Piola and Giuseppe Meazza

Silvio Piola only managed to play three games in his inaugural campaign, but whilst he was cutting his teeth at first team level, his polar opposite, Giuseppe Meazza, was running away with the Capocannoniere, scoring 31 goals in the very first Serie A campaign. Piola was coming into the land of giants and had some big names to deal with, especially the already prolific Meazza. It was a big test for the youngster, who was eager to start the next season in the first team for Pro Vercelli.

Piola had always dreamed of partnering up with the man who topped the goalscoring charts in his first season, whether it was with club or country. Inter tried their hardest to partner Piola and Meazza but for various reasons, the move didn’t happen. It’s one of the great what-ifs in Italian football folklore.

Was Piola heartbroken because of not winning a title at club level? Of course, he was, but he didn’t let the scudetto loss get him down, as he had something bigger on the horizon. He finally got the chance to link up with Meazza with the Italian national team at the 1938 World Cup.

Piola and Meazza set the tournament on fire, teaming up and guiding Italy to the final, where they would take on and defeat Hungry to become world champions. There was no doubt that, at the time, Italy were the best team in the world, and there were even fewer doubts that Piola and Meazza were the best strikers around.

Silvio Piola as a dangerous forward

One of the top facts about Silvio Piola is that he has been described as a pure goal poacher, in the same vain as Pippo Inzaghi or Paolo Rossi, for example, but he also had incredible physical attributes to bully any defender who tried to stop him. He could score from inside or outside the box with both feet and was equally as dangerous in the air as he was in the penalty box, making him tough to mark. 

2 November 1930, was the date that changed Italian football forever – yet no one knew it – as Silvio Piola scored his first goal for Pro Vercelli against the club he would become a legend with, Lazio. In spite of being under six feet, Piola rose highest above all defenders to head home past Ezio Sclavi in the Lazio goal. All it took was this one moment to set Piola off, and he scored a further 12 times that season to finish the season with hype around his name.

Silvio Piola military service

Just after arriving in Rome, a 21-year-old Silvio Piola had to complete his military service, as was the rule for anyone at his age. At the time, nevertheless, the biggest supporter of Lazio was one of the most feared men on the planet, Benito Mussolini, and he helped ensure that the club’s new star could focus on his football. It has even been alleged that Mussolini himself saw to make the transfer to from Pro Vercelli to Lazio possible, by warning off interest from Torino and

Inter Milan

.

Finally, Silvio Piola joined Lazio and began with aplomb, netting on his debut against Livorno. This was the season where Silvio became a world-class forward. Twenty-one goals in 29 matches meant that he gained the nickname “Piola-gol” and he soon became the main player for Lazio.

Silvio Piola at Juventus

Silvio Piola's spell with the Old Lady may not have been his most successful era during his professional career, but it is where he mentored an 18-year-old by the name of

Giampiero Boniperti

. Boniperti became a Juventus legend years after Piola had left, but credits a lot of his achievements to the man who taught him the value of movement, physicality and practicing finishing with both feet.

Silvio Piola at Serie B

That first season at Novara was the only one in which Piola was outside of the top flight – an incredible feat considering how long he played for – and yet he never won the title. It is such a shame that the great man never lifted the scudetto, but the amount of goals he scored more than made up for it.

Silvio Piola last goal

Silvio Piola’s last professional goal was scored against A.C.Milan; his Novara side were trailing 1-0 before the 40-year-old decided to have a bit of fun and equalised with a superb bicycle kick. How many 40-year-old football players can you imagine scoring a goal against Milan, let alone a bicycle kick?

In characteristic Silvio Piola style, this brilliant goal set another record, of being the oldest scorer in Serie A. The record would stand until 2007 when Alessandro Costacurta, a man who had netted only two goals in his whole career up until, scored a penalty on the final day of the season against Udinese.

Silvio Piola stadium

Not many football fans are aware of the story of the greatest goal scorer in the history of Italian football. Giuseppe Meazza may have a stadium named after him in Milan, but Silvio Piola has two stadiums, at Novara and Pro Vercelli. Francesco Totti may have more appearances for Roma, but Silvio Piola has scored more goals in total. He may only have played in one FIFA World Cup, but he and Meazza were memorable in the Azzurri’s victory.

Silvio Piola personal life

One of the

top facts about Silvio Piola

is that he got married to Alda Ghiano on 27 July 1948, in great privacy in the parish of San Bernardo. Alda was lived with Silvio for 48 years until his death on 4 October 1996.

Alda Ghiano was a discreet and reserved, but intelligent and wise woman. She died at the age of 95 in her home in via Ariosto, lovingly assisted by her loved ones.

Silvio Piola death

One of the top facts about Silvio Piola is that he passed away in Gattinara in 1996 at the age of 83.

Silvio Piola honours

Club

S.S. Lazio

  • Serie A: runner-up in 1936–37

  • Mitropa Cup: runner-up in 1937

Juventus F.C.

  • Serie A: runner-up in 1945–46 and 1946–47

Novara

  • Serie B: champion in 1947–48

International

Italy

  • FIFA World Cup in 1938

  • Central European International Cup in 1933–35

Individual

  • Serie A top goalscorer in 1936–37, 1942–43

  • Inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame in 2011 (Posthumously)

  • Inducted into the Walk of Fame of Italian sport in 2015

 

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