The wonder of Batigol (Video)

The international break allows the mind to wander to past memories of international football, where for many, it brought first encounters with the beautiful game. For me personally, my recognition for football first appeared at the 1998 World Cup where I was dazzled by the skills of strikers such as Ronaldo, Michael Owen and first and foremost, Gabriel Batistuta.

I have a particular penchant for a certain type of striker, the out and out poacher who almost always found himself in the right place at the right time. Batistuta fits that mould. In English football, the last of this type was probably Owen or Alan Shearer but as we head into a weekend of international football, let us highlight the goalscoring of genius of Batistuta with the video below.

Batistuta was simply one of the most prolific strikers of his time for both club and country. For Argentina, he is currently the record goalscorer by over 20 goals despite having retired in 2002. For a country that produces forwards of the ilk of Hernan Crespo, Javier Saviola, Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero, Batistuta’s record thus becomes even greater.

For his clubs, the man nicknamed “Batigol” starred in Italy for Fiorentina and Roma, as well as having a spell with Inter Milan but it was for La Viola where the “Angel Gabriel” made his mark. The Serie A title may have eluded him until he reached Rome but who can forget the spectacular Fiorentina goals the video below showcases? In particular, the Champions League blockbusters against Arsenal at Wembley and Manchester United at Old Trafford will live long in the memory.

Batistuta was not simply a poacher in the mould of say Gary Lineker. He had the pace to take players on before scoring, the power to shoot from almost anywhere, the finesse to score from set pieces as well as a supreme predatory penalty box instict. Batistuta also quickly emerged as captain for both club and country, leading as all truly great players do, by example.

In Florence, the fans still talk of their idol while Argentine natives still believe that in terms of a pure goalscorer, there has never been anything quite like “Batigol”.

Adam Mazrani

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