Gabriel Batistuta is on Bleacher Reports’ Top 10 Argentina Players of all time list at number 5.
World Cup Experience: 1994, 1998, 2002
Clubs: Newell’s Old Boys, Deportivo Italia River Plate, Boca Juniors, Fiorentina, Roma, Inter Milan, Al Arabi
Gabriel “Batigol” Batistuta is the highest scorer in the history of the Argentine National, Team netting a remarkable 56 goals in 78 games, including 10 in World Cups.
Born in the Santa Fe Province, Bati started off at Newell’s Old Boys of Rosario before making the jump to River Plate, where he won the Argentine Primera Division in 1990. However, his less than stellar relationship with River manager Daniel Passarella saw him do the unthinkable: move to River’s arch-rivals Boca Juniors.
His stellar performances earned him a call up to the National Team under Alfio Basile for the 1991 Copa America in Chile, where he was the tournament’s leading scorer with six goals as Argentina claimed the title.
Two years later, Argentina won the Copa America again, thanks to a double from Batistuta in the Final against Mexico.
At USA 1994, Bati made his first appearance in a World Cup and Argentina began as one of the favorites, after Diego Maradona returned to the National Team. Batistuta scored a hat-trick in the opener against Greece and Argentina looked set to make a run deep into the tournament before Maradona’s doping test came out positive, crushing the spirit of the team and leading to a second round exit at the hands of Romania.
Four years later, Bati was again the main man for Argentina, smashing three goals against Jamaica, making him the only player to score a hat-trick in two different World Cups. He also added goals against Japan and England as Argentina reached the Quarterfinals, where they were undone by a brilliant strike from Dennis Bergkamp.
At the club level, Batistuta is the all time leading scorer for Fiorentina after showing loyalty by staying with the Tuscan outfit for nine seasons despite offers from bigger clubs.
Finally, in 2000, in search for the league title that had alluded him for so many years in Florence, he moved to the capital where he signed with Roma and scored 20 goals in leading the Giallorossi to the Scudetto.
At the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan, Batistuta and Argentina were again amongst the favorites, but after Bati netted the only goal in a 1-0 over Nigeria, Argentina collapsed against England and Sweden and missed out on the Second Round, ending Bati’s international career in tears.
Although he never made it past the quarterfinals of the World Cup, Batistuta will always be remembered for his desire and passion when playing for Argentina and, of course, his record setting scoring record.
He now passes time as a polo player back in Argentina.
- Published by Jas in: News