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Gabriel Omar Batistuta (born 1 February 1969), nicknamed Batigol, is a former professional footballer. The prolific Argentine striker played most of his club football at ACF Fiorentina in Italy, and he is the eighth top scorer of all time in the Italian Serie A league, with 184 goals in 318 matches between 1991 and 2003. On the international level, he is the all-time highest scorer for Argentina's national team, with 56 goals in 78 national team matches, and he represented his country at three FIFA World Cups. In 2004, he was named in the FIFA 100 list of the "125 Greatest Living Footballers".
 

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When his club Fiorentina was relegated to Serie B in 1993, Batistuta stayed with the club and helped it return to the top-flight league two years later. A hero in Florence, the Fiorentina fans erected a life-size bronze statue of him in 1996, in recognition of his performances for Fiorentina. He never won the Italian league with Fiorentina, but when he moved to AS Roma in 2000, he finally won the Serie A championship to crown his career in Italy. He played his last in season in Qatar with Al-Arabi before he retired in 2005.

Now he is one of Televisa Deportes's commentators for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany and for the show "La jugada".

Personal life

Batistuta was born on 1 February 1969, to slaughterhouse worker Omar Batistuta and school secretary Gloria Batistuta, in the town of Avellaneda, province of Santa Fe, Argentina, but grew up in the near city of Reconquista. After him, his parents had three girls, named Elisa, Alejandra, and Gabriela.

At age 16, he met Irina Fernández, his future wife, on her quinceañera, a rite of passage on her 15th birthday. It is said that Irina Fernández completely ignored him at the beginning. Some five years later, on December 28, 1990, Irina and Gabriel were married at Saint Roque Church. The couple moved to Florence, Italy, in 1991, and a year later their first son, Thiago, was born. Thanks to good performances in the Italian championship and with the Argentine national team, Batistuta gained fame and respect. He filmed several commercials and was invited onto numerous TV shows, but in spite of this, Batistuta always remained a low-profile family man.

In 1996, during Fiorentina's 2-1 victory at A.C. Milan, he celebrated scoring the match's decisive goal by saying Te amo, Irina ('I love you, Irina', to his wife) for the cameras. The mix of sex appeal and faithfulness cemented Batistuta's heart-throb reputation among Argentine and Italian women. In 1997, Batistuta's second son, Lucas, was born, and a third son, Joaquín, followed in 1999. In 2000, the Batistuta family moved to Rome and two years later to Milan, following Batistuta's changes of team. In 2002, after more than 10 years in Italy, the family moved to Qatar where Batistuta had accepted a lucrative celebrity playing contract with a local team, Al-Arabi.

Batistuta ended his career at Al-Arabi, retiring in March 2005, after a series of injuries that prevented him from playing. Soon afterwards he moved to Perth, Australia. In April 2006, the city's established A-league franchise, Perth Glory was put up for sale and it was reported that Batistuta was among the bidders. One of his sons attends Hale School, a prestigious Western Australian private school.

The player

Beginnings

As a child Batistuta preferred other sports to football. Thanks to his height he played basketball, but after Argentina's victory in the 1978 FIFA World Cup, in which he was particularly impressed by the skills of Mario Kempes, he devoted himself to football. After playing with friends on the streets and in the small Grupo Alegria club, he joined the local Platense junior team. While with Platense he was selected for the Reconquista team that won the provincial championship by beating Newell's Old Boys from Rosario. His 2 goals drew the attention of the opposition team, and he signed for them in 1988.

Professional

Batistuta signed professional forms with Newell's Old Boys Club, whose coach was Marcelo Bielsa, who would later become Batistuta's coach with the Argentine national team. Things did not come easily for Batistuta during his first year with the club. He was away from home, his family, and his girlfriend Irina, sleeping in a room at the stadium, and had a weight problem that slowed him down. At the end of that year he was loaned to a smaller team, Deportivo Italiano, of Buenos Aires, with whom he participated in the Carnevale Cup in Italy, ending as top scorer with 3 goals.

In mid-1989, Batistuta made the leap to one of Argentina's biggest clubs, River Plate, where he scored 17 goals. However, all did not run smoothly. He had numerous run-ins with coach Daniel Passarella (with whom he had later confrontations on the national squad) and he was dropped from the squad in the middle of the season.

In 1990, Batistuta signed for River's arch-rivals, Boca Juniors. Having gone so long without playing, he inititally found it hard to find his best form. However, at the beginning of 1991 Oscar Tabárez became Boca's coach, and he gave Batistuta the support and confidence to become the league's top scorer that season as Boca won the championship.

International

In 1991, Batistuta was selected to play for Argentina in the Copa América held in Chile, where he finished the tournament as top scorer with 6 goals as Argentina romped to victory.

It was during the Copa América that the vice-president of Fiorentina got the chance to see Batistuta's skills and signed him for the Italian club. However, the following season Fiorentina were relegated to the Serie B secondary division, in spite of Batistuta's 13 season goals. It took two years, and 16 Batistuta goals, before the club, now managed by Claudio Ranieri returned to Serie A.

In 1993, Batistuta played in his second Copa América, this time held in Ecuador, which Argentina again won. The 1994 FIFA World Cup, held in USA, was a disappointment: after a very promising start Argentina were beaten by Romania in the Round of 16. The morale of the team was seriously affected by Diego Maradona's doping suspension. Despite the disappointing Argentine exit, Batistuta scored 4 goals in as many games.

On his return to Fiorentina, Batistuta found his best form. He became the top scorer of the 1994-1995 season with 26 goals, and he broke Ezio Pascutti's 30-year-old record by scoring in all of the first 11 matches of the season. In the 1995-1996 season Fiorentina won the Italian Cup and Super Coppa.

During the qualification matches for the 1998 FIFA World Cup (with former River Plate manager Passarella now coaching the Argentinean national team) Batistuta was left out of the majority of the games after falling out with the coach. Playing in the World Cup finals themselves, he scored 5 goals in that competition, before Argentina lost 2-1 to the Netherlands in the quarter-finals. In the game against Jamaica, he recorded the second hat trick of his World Cup career, becoming the 4th player ever to achieve this (the others were Sándor Kocsis, Just Fontaine, and Gerd Müller) and the first to score a hat trick in 2 World Cups.

After yet another failure to win a championship of importance with Fiorentina, Batistuta started considering a transfer to a bigger team. But, in an effort to keep Batistuta, Fiorentina hired Giovanni Trapattoni as coach and promised to do everything to win the Scudetto. After an excellent start to the season, Batistuta suffered an injury that kept him out of action for more than a month. Losing momentum, Fiorentina lost the lead and finished the season in third place, which at least gave them the chance to participate in the Champions League in the following season.

Good-bye to Fiorentina

Batistuta stayed at Fiorentina for the 1999-2000 season, tempted by the chance of winning both the Scudetto and the Champions League. But things did not go to plan and he was transferred to A.S. Roma in a deal worth 35 million US dollars. In spite of a knee injury that kept him out for a few matches, he scored 20 goals for A.S. Roma in his first season with the club, and finally realized his dream of winning a major trophy as Roma clinched the Scudetto for the first time since 1983.

After a good series of performances by Argentina in the qualification matches for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, hopes were high that the South Americans - now managed by Marcelo Bielsa - could win the trophy, and Batistuta announced that he planned to quit the national team at the end of the tournament, which Argentina aimed to win. But Argentina's "group of death" saw the team fall at the first hurdle, as poor results against Nigeria, England, and Sweden meant that the team was knocked out in the opening round for the first time since 1962.

Back in Italy, Batistuta failed to find form with Roma and was loaned out to Internazionale; however, he failed to make an impression and departed for Qatar.

Statistics

  • Physical information: Height 1.85 m, weight 73 kg
  • First professional match: September 25, 1988. San Martín (Tucumán) 1 - Newell's Old Boys 0
  • First professional goal: May 16, 1989. Newell's Old Boys 3 - Platense 0.
  • First national team match: June 27, 1991. Brazil 1 - Argentina 1.
  • First national team goal: July 8, 1991. Argentina 3 - Venezuela 0.
  • Last national team match: June 12, 2002. Argentina 1 - Sweden 1.
  • Last national team goal: June 2, 2002. Argentina 1 - Nigeria 0.
  • 78 national team matches with 56 goals.

Honours

  • First Division (Serie A) Italian Championship (with A.S. Roma) 2000-2001.
  • Italian Supercup (with ACF Fiorentina) 1996, (with A.S. Roma) 2001
  • Argentine Football Writers' Footballer of the Year 1998.
  • Italian Cup (with ACF Fiorentina) 1995-1996.
  • Second Division (Serie B) Italian Championship (with Fiorentina) 1993-1994.
  • First Division Top Scorer, 26 goals (with Fiorentina) 1994-1995
  • Copa América (with Argentina) 1991, 1993
  • Copa América Top Scorer, 6 goals (with Argentina) 1991

Quotes

  • "[...] I was watching him in training for the first couple of days and he was one of the worst trainers I'd ever seen [...] His technique was lousy, his shots were going wide – but then he scored ten goals in the first five or six games and I realised what a player he was." Brian Laudrup, 2006.

References

  1. ^ Batistuta linked with Perth Glory bid, TribalFootball, April 22, 2006
  2. ^ Where are they now? Brian Laudrup, FIFA, February 3, 2006

Comments

no is not possible to compare him to god. he was a good soccer player like other good soccer players. One of the best goal scorers I have ever seen

whay

The Only striker who could be said that he is the best striker since 1990 until. Top goal scorer with the ability to score goals by any means

The classiest goal scorer ever to grace a football pitch. Thank you for those beautiful memories. David, Northern Ireland 2006.

he is a footballer , whom we can compare with god, with jesus. there is no negative points in him

 


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