Kevin Pogorzelski Date: 1st February 2019 at 10:30am
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With Fabio Quagliarella a goal from breaking one of Gabriel Batistuta’s goalscoring records on Saturday afternoon, the Argentine may have a keen eye on events in the Stadio San Paolo when Sampdoria face Napoli.

However, while a 12th consecutive goal while see the evergreen Samp striker surpass the South American great, 24 hours earlier the former Fiorentina hitman will have celebrated another milestone after turning 50.

As Batistuta’s goals came in the opening 11 games of the 1994/95 Serie A campaign, though, he still retains the record in some form, and amassed plenty of scoring feats during his playing career.

Born in Avellaneda, Santa Fe, few realise the success he experienced in his homeland, such was the level of reputation that he built leading the line for the Viola for the majority of the 1990s.

However, during just three years as a professional, Batistuta managed to appear for three of the most iconic clubs in Argentine history – Boca Juniors, Newell’s Old Boys and River Plate – play under legendary coach Marcelo Bielsa and winning two titles.

Nineteen goals in 39 appearances across those sides drew worldwide attention, but performances in a 1991 Copa America triumph – finishing top scorer with six goals – prompted Fiorentina to take him to the peninsula.

From the moment he stepped out onto the Stadio Artemio Franchi turf, Batistuta looked made for Italian and European football.

With 14 goals in 30 appearances in all competitions, maintaining his excellent scoring rate in his debut season, another 16 the following campaign could not stop them being relegated on goal difference though.

Many clubs today would have cashed in on their most prized of assets, but Fiorentina held onto the powerful frontman and he helped shoot them back to the top-flight, and was now widely known as ‘Batigol’.

Alongside the arrival of creative genius Rui Costa from Benfica, Batistuta topped the Serie A scoring charts with 26 goals the next year and it felt as though something special was developing in Florence, despite a mid-table finish.

Although finishing 14 points behind champions AC Milan, the Viola won their first major trophies in 21 years and it was the Argentina international playing a vital role in both triumphs.

After scoring the only goal of the first-leg against Atalanta, Batistuta volleyed home two emphatic finishes during a hostile atmosphere in Bergamo for the return leg to lift the Coppa Italia as captain.

That presented Fiorentina with a Supercoppa Italia clash against Milan at the Stadio San Siro the next season and Batistuta scored both goals in a 2-1 victory – the second a stunning free-kick.

The power and precision of the South American’s strikes were his trademark and memorable goals in the Champions League against Arsenal and Manchester United became part of Fiorentina folklore.

However, although they reached the 1996/97 European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final and took some famous scalps on the continent, the failure to add more medals to his trophy cabinet took its toll.

The 1999/2000 Serie A campaign, when he was voted third in the FIFA Player of the Year, was the Argentine’s final attempt to win a Scudetto in Florence and, with a heavy heart, departed the club as their all-time top scorer in Serie A.

Despite injuries beginning to slow his ageing legs, Roma paid €36.2 million to make him the most expensive over 30 in the world football. An investment the Giallorossi will never regret.

Roma secured a first Scudetto in 19 years, with Batistuta their leading marksman. However, that title triumph was also made famous by the Viola’s visit to the Stadio Olimpico in November 2000 that season.

Just months after exiting Florence, the Argentine netted a stunning 30-yard volley to win the game in the 83rd minute, but refused to celebrate with teammates. Accepting his departure as a final chance of league glory, the Fiorentina fans saluted him even after the defeat, but a tearful Batistuta was inconsolable.

That ultimately became the frontman’s swansong in Italian football. The damage of years of opponents attempting to halt his formidable talents by any means possible, limiting effectiveness during his last 18 months in the capital, as well as a short spell at Inter.

After coming close to signing for English side Fulham, a move to Qatar with Al-Arabi saw him break the record for most goals in a season, but, like with his homeland, it is Italian football that his name will always be associated with and hold legendary status, whatever records others may surpass.