Alberto Gilardino is an Italian footballer who last played as a striker for Pescara. A prolific goalscorer, in Gilardino’s early career he was compared to Filippo Inzaghi due to his opportunism, positional sense and eye for goal, while Christian Vieri described him as the fusion of both players. Gilardino currently holds the record for being the second-youngest player to have scored 100 goals in Serie A, after José Altafini. With 188 Serie A goals, Gilardino is currently among the top 10 all-time scorers in Serie A history and ranks second among active players after Francesco Totti. Gilardino has played for several Italian clubs throughout his career. He first came to prominence during his time at Parma due to his consistent goalscoring, which earned him the Serie A Young Footballer of the Year Award in 2004, followed by the Serie A Footballer of the Year and the Serie A Italian Footballer of the Year Awards in 2005, as well as a move to Milan. With Milan, he won the 2006–07 UEFA Champions League, the 2007 UEFA Super Cup and the 2007 FIFA Club World Cup. Gilardino has also played for Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande, with whom he won the 2014 Chinese Super League. Gilardino has represented Italy at under-19, under-20, under-21, and senior levels. Gilardino was a part of the Italian side that won the 2004 UEFA Under-21 Championship, where he became the tournament’s leading goalscorer. He was also named as the best player of the tournament, and one of two strikers in the UEFA Team of the Tournament. Later that year, he also won a bronze medal with Italy at the 2004 Summer Olympics. He is the all-time top scorer of the Italy U-21 national team with 19 goals in 30 appearances. At senior level, he was part of the 2006 FIFA World Cup-winning squad, and has also participated at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, the 2010 World Cup and the 2013 Confederations Cup, where he won a bronze medal.
Did you Know?
Gilardino played with Italy in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, winning the bronze medal; he scored a decisive goal in the match for third place. He also led Italy’s Under-21 team to victory in the 2004 European Under-21 Football Championship. With the Italy national Under-21 team led by coach Claudio Gentile, Gilardino won the 2004 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, and was also named the best player and top scorer of the event with 4 goals. He is currently the all-time top scorer for the Italy National Under-21 team with 19 goals in 30 matches.
Did you Know?
A quick, agile, hard-working, and prolific forward with an excellent positional sense, who is skilled in the air, both with his head and acrobatically, due to his height, Gilardino plays mainly as a striker who prefers to be served in the penalty area. This position allows him to leverage his skills, timing, opportunism, and ability to score goals and finish off chances by getting on the end of his teammates’ crosses. Possessing good technique and an eye for goal, he is capable of shooting first time, but is also known for his ability to use his skills and strength to protect the ball and to defend himself with his back to goal; he often uses this ability to provide depth to his team, holding up the ball and subsequently laying it off for teammates, providing them with assists. Gilardino is naturally right-footed, but in his early years at Parma, he was able to improve his ability with his left foot. Gilardino was a member of the 23-man Italy squad that won the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He played in the first two matches, scoring a goal in his nation’s second group match, a 1–1 draw against the United States, with a diving header off a free kick by Andrea Pirlo; He came on as a substitute in the semifinal match against hosts Germany, hitting the post in extra time; in the last minute of the second half of extra time, he provided the assist for Alessandro Del Piero’s goal two minutes after the first goal, sealing the Azzurri’s 2–0 victory, which earned them a place in the final; Italy subsequently defeated France 5–3 on penalties in the final, following a 1–1 draw after extra time.