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.