On 5th July 1982, the very same day that Paolo Rossi scored a historic hat-trick against Brazil at the 1982 World Cup, Alberto Gilardino was born in Biella. Given that he was born on such an important date, it doesn’t seem a coincidence that he currently ranks amongst the 15 most prolific Azzurri marksmen.
Gilardino made his Serie A debut with Piacenza when he was just 17. He had his breakthrough season four years later at Parma, where he delighted the club’s fans with his trademark “violin” celebration.
Gilardino then joined AC Milan and won a UEFA Champions League, a UEFA Super Cup and a FIFA Club World Cup with the Rossoneri.
Gilardino made history whilst playing for the Italy Under-21 side. He remains the most prolific Azzurrini goal scorer with a total of 19 goals. He also led the team to victory at the 2004 European Under-21 Championship.
After winning a bronze medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004, head coach Marcello Lippi called him up to the senior team. He made his debut against Norway aged 22 and was part of the squad that won the 2006 World Cup in Germany, scoring one of his 19 Azzurri goals on Italy’s road to victory.
Gilardino then took part in another World Cup, two more EUROs and two Confederations Cups, before winning his 57th and final cap in Copenhagen against Denmark in October 2013.
One year later, he managed to add another title to his prestigious list of honours when he won the Chinese Super League whilst playing under former Italy coach Lippi at Guangzhou Evergrande.
Gilardino moved on to Empoli following a season before transferring to Pescara in the winter window.
In October 2017, he moved to Spezia before becoming unattached in the summer.