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"Batigol", as he is affectionately known by fans around the world, graced the fields of Italy for over a decade and has been one of his nation’s most prolific goalscorers.
Batistuta originally wanted to be a professional basketball player but soon a move to football had a remarkable affect as he went o nto play for the Buenos Aires giants River Plate and Boca Juniors, after a brief stint with Newell’s Old Boys. A move to Italy, and Fiorentina, soon followed. After the Viola’s shock relegation, he surprisingly stayed with the club, winning the Serie B title and bringing them back to Italy’s premier division. Another title was won in the form of the Italian Cup in the 1995-1996 season. In the 1998-1999 season, Fiorentina were on course to take the Scudetto but an injury to their front man and captain had serious consequences as they finished third.
For the 2000-2001 season, Batistuta found himself in the eternal city of Rome with the Giallorossi. His goals took Roma to only their third ever Scudetto, and the following season helped them to second place. In the 2002/2003 season, an off-form Batistuta was loaned out to Inter Milan where he failed to impress and the following year found himself in Qatar.
Batistuta also had a fruitful international career as he top scored as Argentina won the 1991 Copa America and won the same trophy again in 1993. He was one of Argentina’s better players at the 1994 World Cup where he scored a hat trick against Greece and ended the tournament with four goals as Argentina crashed out against Romania in the second round. At the competition in France, Batistuta was once again a goal-scoring machine as he scored five goals including another hat trick this time against Jamaica. The tournament in Asia was a letdown as Batigol was not in his usual form, scoring only once as Argentina went out in the first round.
Batistuta may be close to leaving the football pitch as a player for good but his fans across the world can only hope that he can continue to function in the sport in another role as they thank him for the great memories he provided them over the years.
If you were a football fan in the late 80’s and early 90’s, you surely know Marco Van Basten and his capabilities.
He was born on the 31st of October 1964 in Utrecth, Netherlands. He began his career with a short lived spell at local side Edilwijk before being whisked off to Dutch super club Ajax in Amsterdam. He played his first game for Ajax in the Eredivise on the 3rd of April 1982 against Nijmegen, fittingly replacing the reigning Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff and even managing to grab a goal in the process. What an unforgettable debut!
By 1986 he was considered as the most complete and lethal forward in Europe. He grabbed the European Golden Boot award with his 37 goals. At Ajax Van Basten won two Dutch Championships, two Dutch Cups and the European Cup Winners’ Cup. He played his final game for Ajax against Dynamo Dresden, winning the European Cup Winners Cup. He had scored 128 league goals in just 143 games at an unprecedented strike rate and was top scorer in Holland 4 times.
In 1987, he was transferred to Milan. He made his debut with on 13th September 1987 in Pisa and again scored a goal as Milan won 3-1.But in 1987-1988 season, he only managed to play 11 games with 3 goals after being plagued by an ankle injury that would haunt him for the rest of his career. Because of this injury, he started the 1988 European Championship as a subtitute. But later on managed to become the best player of the tournament. He scored a fantastic goal, considered as one of the best ever seen in football history.
Later on in Milan, Van Basten was heavily involved in helping the Rossoneri pick up 3 Scudetto’s, 2 European Cups, 2 World Club Cups and 2 European Super Cups. He scored an incredible 90 goals in 147 Serie A games. He also grabbed 3 European Footballer of the Year awards, 2 World Player of the Year awards, FIFA World Player of the year and 2 Capocannonere awards as Serie A top marksman. He also marked a 92.3% percentage rate at penalty kicks.
There is one interesting story back in the match in 1991-1992 season. In the match against Cagliari; in the first half Cagliari were leading 1-0. After half time, when all players returning to the field, Fabio Capello, Milan coach, showed the number of 3 with his fingers which showed to Marco Van Basten. Later on, Van Basten scored a hattrick in 18 minutes to help the Rossoneri win the game.
His career ended when he was on the top of the world. After winning the 1992 European Footballer of the year, 1992 world footballer of the year. and helping Milan to win the Scudetto and Champions League title, his career ended because his ankle injuries.
By January 1993, he was operated on for the 4th time. On 18th August 1995, in the Luigi Berlusconi trophy, Marco Van Basten, the greatest European striker of the last 20 years, left football. 85.000 people at San Siro stood up and clapped him. Football fans lost this maestro but always remember him in their hearts. Van Basten had made a legend of himself before his injury dramatically shortened his brilliant career. He was known as one of the complete strikers, able to score with both feet, also great with his head, while also possessing with great vision.
Van Basten’s achievements:
3 Dutch titles
3 Dutch Cups
3 times Dutch League top scorer
3 Italian titles
2 European Super Cups
2 European Cups
2 Intercontinental Cups
1 Cup Winners Cup
2 times Italian League top scorer
1 World Player of the Year award
1 Golden Boot award
3 times European Footballer of the Year
2 World Soccer Player of the Year awards
In the world there are hundreds of very talented players but in the 90’s only Zinedine Zidane can be mentioned near Roberto Baggio.
He is what basket ball would consider a clutch player. When backs are against the wall and everything appears to be almost impossible, here is a man and a footballer that makes the spectator believe, and opponent fearful.
I would be delighted to know how many of his 200+ Serie A goals were scored in the last 5 minutes of a game. Baggio could have retired like so many other famous stars in his twilight era in Japan or Brazil and collected a big pay check, instead he continued to pit himself week in week out with the best at the highest standard and is a constant match winner.
There is a great generation of players in Italy and Francesco Totti is at the forefront, with Antonio Cassano and Andrea Pirlo but neither of these makes my heart skip a beat when they touch the ball.
At 38 Baggio, has performed very well this season and was in good condition and contending for a place in the Championship squad. He has missed 4 European Championships and a world cup in his career, and has retired from the game now. I dream to think what he could have done if he had been selected for any of these tournaments.
It is time now to let go of the most loved Italian sportsman ever and there is no point looking around for a new Baggio because there won’t be one. A crying shame that we abused the services of our greatest phenomenon and are left thinking about what ifs!!!!