Gabriel Omar Batistuta nicknamed Batigol as well as El Ángel Gabriel (Spanish for Angel Gabriel), is a retired Argentine professional footballer. 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 a year later. He became a popular sporting figure in Florence; the Fiorentina fans erected a life-size bronze statue of him in 1996, in recognition of his performances for the club. Despite winning the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana with the club in 1996, he never won the Italian league with Fiorentina, but when he moved to Roma in 2000, he finally won the Serie A title to crown his career in Italy. After an unsuccessful loan spell with Inter in 2003, he played his last two seasons in Qatar with Al-Arabi before he retired in 2005. At international level, he was Argentina’s all-time leading goalscorer with 56 goals in 78 official matches,[a] a record he held until 2016. Batistuta played at three World Cups, scoring 10 goals, which makes him Argentina’s all-time top scorer in the competition, and the joint eighth-highest World Cup goalscorer of all time. Batistuta is the only player in football history to score two hat-tricks in different World Cups. With the Argentina national team he won two consecutive Copa América titles and the FIFA Confederations Cup. Regarded as one of the best strikers of his generation, in 1999, Batistuta placed third in the FIFA World Player of the Year award, and in 2004 he was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world’s greatest living players.
Vicenza vs Fiorentina
Match Worn Shirt
Did you Know?
While playing for Argentina in the 1991 Copa América, the vice-president of Fiorentina was impressed by Batistuta’s skills and signed him. He had a fine start in Serie A, scoring 13 goals in his debut season. However, the following season, in 1992–93, Fiorentina lost in the relegation battle and were demoted to Serie B, despite Batistuta’s 16 league goals. The club returned to Serie A after one season in Serie B, with the contribution of 16 goals from Batistuta and the management of Claudio Ranieri, as Fiorentina captured the 1993–94 Serie B title. At Fiorentina, Batistuta found his best form. He was the top scorer of the 1994–95 Serie A season with 26 goals, and he broke Ezio Pascutti’s 32-year-old record by scoring in all of the first 11 matches of the season. In the 1995–96 season, Batistuta, alongside Rui Costa and Francesco Baiano, helped the club to go on a 15-match unbeaten run, as they eventually ended the season with a fourth-place league finish. Fiorentina also won the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana over A.C. Milan; in the two-legged Coppa Italia final against Atalanta, Batistuta scored a goal in each fixture as Fiorentina won 3–0 on aggregate. The next season was less successful, as Fiorentina finished in a disappointing ninth place in the league, although the team managed to reach the semi-finals of the 1996–97 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, losing out to eventual champions Barcelona, despite scoring a goal in a 1–1 away draw in the first leg. Scoring over 20 league goals in each of the next three seasons – made all the more impressive given Serie A was the strongest league in the world and the hardest to score in with the best defences – as well as spectacular powerful strikes against Arsenal and Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League, Batistuta came third for FIFA World Player of the Year in 1999. Batistuta and Ronaldo were the two best strikers in Serie A, with their duels the most anticipated in Italy. After his failure to win the Italian championship with Fiorentina, Batistuta started considering a transfer to a bigger team. 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, although the result enabled them to participate in the Champions League the following season. In addition to the fans erecting a life-size bronze statue of him in Florence, Bastituta was inducted into the club’s hall of fame in 2014. An emotional Batistuta told the audience at the ceremony: “From the moment I arrived at Fiorentina I wanted a place in the history of the club – and now I can say I have succeeded.”
Things to Know:
This shirt was worn by Gabriel Batistuta during the Serie A’s game between Vicenza and Fiorentina which took place in Vicenza, “Stadio Romeo Menti”, on September 20th 1998. Fiorentina defeated Vicenza 2-1 and Batistuta scored the first goal after one minute of the first half. The shirt was was swapped with a Vicenza’s player who we got it from.
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A quick, hard-working, and powerful player, with an eye for goal and a good all-round game, Batistuta is considered one of the most complete, feared and prolific strikers of his generation. As a forward, he was primarily known for his technique, offensive movement off the ball, strength in the air, and powerful, clinical finishing ability with both feet from anywhere on the pitch, despite being naturally right-footed; he also possessed an excellent positional sense, as well as an ability to anticipate defenders in the area, score acrobatic goals from volleys or bicycle kicks, and strike the ball first time from tight angles while on the run. He was also highly regarded due to his accurate heading and powerful free-kick taking abilities; although he was a competent penalty taker, his conversion rate from the spot throughout his career was less reliable, however. In addition to his skill and goalscoring abilities, Batistuta frequently stood out on the pitch throughout his career due to his leadership and fair-play. Diego Maradona stated that Batistuta is the best striker he has ever seen play the game. Despite his ability, he suffered several injuries throughout his career, which often limited his playing time and fitness, in particular in his later career, and eventually forced him to retire prematurely.
Fifa World Cup “KOREA & JAPAN 2002”
Argentina vs Sweden
Match Worn Shirt
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After a good series of performances by Argentina in the qualification matches for the 2002 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, only managing a victory against Nigeria (Batistuta scored the match’s only goal). They later fell to England 1–0 and managed a mere 1–1 tie against Sweden. This meant that the team was knocked out in the opening round for the first time since 1962. With 54 goals from 77 games, Batistuta was the record goalscorer for Argentina, a record he held until it was surpassed by Lionel Messi in 2016. Batistuta admitted he was a little annoyed at losing the record, stating, “You go around the world and people say, ‘he’s the top scorer for the Argentina national team’, before he then added, “But the advantage I have is that I’m second to an extraterrestrial.”
Things to Know:
In the 2002 World Cup, Argentina was assigned to the group of death. This shirt was worn or issued for Gabriel Batistuta for the FIFA World Cup “KOREA & JAPAN 2002” group stage’s game between Argentina and Sweden which took place in Rifu (Japan), Miyagi Stadium, on June 12th 2002. The shirt was given to a Sweden Team player but we don’t know if it was worn or just issued for Batistuta. The game against Sweden was the last “Group F” game and Argentina draw 1-1. In this last life and death war against Sweden in the group competition, Argentina couldn’t break the blanket defense of Sweden even when they tried their best. Batistuta was replaced by Hernán Jorge Crespo in the competition. Tears burst out of his eyes as he walked out of the field. Shen Bing, the host of CCTV, cried for the team when the media broadcast the competition on live television. That summer buried the dreams of many heroes as well as Batistuta’s hope of winning the World Cup for Argentina.
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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 six goals as Argentina romped to victory. The following year, he won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Argentina, finishing as the tournament’s top-scorer. In 1993, Batistuta played in his second Copa América, this time held in Ecuador, which Argentina won with Batistuta scoring both goals in a 2–1 win over Mexico in the final. The 1994 World Cup, held in the United States, was a disappointment. After a promising start Argentina were beaten by Romania in the last 16. The morale of the team was seriously affected by Diego Maradona’s doping suspension. Despite the disappointing Argentine exit, Batistuta scored four goals in as many games, including a hat-trick in their opening game against Greece. During the qualification matches for the 1998 World Cup (with former River Plate manager Daniel Passarella) Batistuta was left out of the majority of the games after falling out with the coach over team rules. The two eventually put the dispute aside and Batistuta was recalled for the tournament. In the game against Jamaica, he recorded the second hat-trick of his World Cup career, becoming the fourth player to achieve this (the others were Sándor Kocsis, Just Fontaine, and Gerd Müller) and the first to score a hat-trick in two World Cups. Argentina were knocked out of the World Cup by the Netherlands courtesy of a last minute Dennis Bergkamp winner after the two sides had held out for a 1–1 draw for almost the entire match. After a good series of performances by Argentina in the qualification matches for the 2002 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, only managing a victory against Nigeria (Batistuta scored the match’s only goal). They later fell to England 1–0 and managed a mere 1–1 tie against Sweden. This meant that the team was knocked out in the opening round for the first time since 1962.
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Speaking in a television interview in Argentina in 2014, Batistuta said the pain suffered in his ankles after retiring in 2005 became so intense that he “urinated in bed with the toilet only a few steps away. I couldn’t move.” He visited a doctor he knew asking his legs be amputated, but the doctor turned down his request. Although he later underwent surgery to relieve the pressure on his cartilage and tendons, and his condition improved slightly, in a 2017 interview he stated that he still had difficulty walking and faced mobility issues as a result of the stresses and injuries he faced throughout his football career due to overexerting himself. He has however still been able to take part in charity football games, and in 2014 he scored twice – one a trademark finish with a powerful 35 yard strike into the roof of the net – in a game in Italy.