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The Great Golden Oldie Goalscorers in Italian Football

The Great Golden Oldie Goalscorers in Italian Football

Friday, 15 March, 2019 - 07:45
There was life after 30 for Fabio Quagliarella, Alessandro Del Piero and Luca Toni. Composite: Getty Images
London - Ramez Nathan
Fabio Quagliarella made a little bit of history this season. He scored in 11 consecutive games for Sampdoria and equalled a record set by Gabriel Batistuta back in 1994-95. Fittingly, his chance to break that record came against his hometown club, Napoli, just a few days after he had celebrated his 36th birthday. It seemed to be written in the stars, yet there was to be no fairytale ending for Quagliarella. Sampdoria were soundly beaten 3-0.

Nevertheless, what the 36-year-old had achieved – and continues to achieve – is remarkable. Scoring goals is meant to be the hardest skill in football yet Quagliarella reminds us that veteran strikers are part of Serie A’s fabric. With that in mind, let’s honour those forwards who have continued to flourish in the twilight years of their careers.

Fabio Quagliarella

When it comes to jaw-dropping goals, Quagliarella has a back catalogue full of them: long-range screamers, bicycle kicks and backheel volleys. His YouTube compilations are up there with those of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Quagliarella has travelled the length and breadth of the peninsula, playing for eight clubs in his career. He won Serie B with Torino and three consecutive Serie A titles with Juventus, but his greatest personal success has come since he joined Sampdoria in 2016 at the age of 33.

He was always known for his flashes of brilliance and as a scorer of great goals, but at Sampdoria he has established himself as a consistent marksman. He scored 19 league goals last season – a personal best – and he is likely to surpass that total this season. He currently sits just two goals short of Cristiano Ronaldo in the Serie A scoring charts. Not bad for a 36-year-old.

Edin Dzeko

After spells in Bosnia and Czech Republic, Edin Dzeko moved to Germany in 2007 and really made his name. He scored 26 goals in his second season as Wolfsburg won their first ever Bundesliga title and he followed that up by finishing top scorer in his final campaign in Germany before moving on to Manchester City in 2010.

Dzeko won two more league titles during his five years in England before finding a home at Roma. At the age of 31, Dzeko ended the 2016-17 season with 39 goals in all competitions, including a chart-topping 29 in Serie A. The next season his goals helped Roma reach the Champions League semi-finals and, even though he turns 33 this month, Dzeko shows no signs of slowing down. He even scored his first Champions League hat-trick this season.

Massimo Maccarone

He is not the most glamorous striker on this list, but Massimo Maccarone is one of the most iconic players in Empoli’s history. Big Mac’s cult status at the club was secured back in the 2001-02 season, when he and Antonio Di Natale helped fire them back into Serie A. In 2012, towards the end of an eventful career, Maccarone returned to Empoli, aged 32.

The club were in Serie B at the time and Maccarone once again spearheaded their return to the top flight. He did not stop there. In the 2015-16 season, he hit a personal best of 13 goals in Serie A. Incredibly, he was 36 at the time.

Diego Milito

Diego Milito celebrated his 30th birthday in the summer of 2009. He had just scored 24 league goals for Genoa in the 2008-09 season, guiding them to fifth in Serie A, and was just about to sign for Inter, where he would replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Milito hit the ground running, scoring 30 goals in their historic treble-winning season. But he didn’t stop there. The Argentinian scored 26 goals for Inter two years later and was still playing at the age of 37.

Antonio Di Natale

Empoli’s relegation in 2004 proved to be a blessing in disguise for Antonio Di Natale. He moved to Udinese that summer and went on to become the top scorer in the club’s history. Di Natale hit 191 goals for the club in Serie A and, incredibly, 163 of them came after his 30th birthday.

With his intelligent movement, accurate finishing and unabashed hunger for goals, the Italian reached his peak between 2009 and 2011, when he topped the Serie A scoring charts for two consecutive seasons. Di Natale continued his masterclass in finishing for another five seasons before finally retiring at 36.

Alessandro Del Piero

We can count ourselves lucky to have lived at a time when Alessandro Del Piero wore the black and white stripes of Juventus. Del Piero won every title going in his 20s, but the Calciopoli scandal marked a new personal beginning for the Juventus captain in his 30s.

After winning the World Cup in 2006, Del Piero found himself playing in Serie B and, instead of burying his head in the sand, he scored 20 goals that season, won the golden boot and helped the Old Lady secure her return to the top flight. Del Piero returned to Serie A at the age of 33 and took the league by the storm, scoring 21 goals to win the Capocannoniere for the first time in his career.

Francesco Totti

There may never be another Italian footballer with the technique, poise and spirit of Francesco Totti and Roma are unlikely to ever have a son as beloved and successful as the man who represented them for 25 years. Totti celebrated his 30th birthday at the start of the 2006-07 season, right after he had won the World Cup.

He continued that form in the following campaign, becoming the Capocannoniere with 26 goals. He went on to score 125 goals for Roma in his 30s and did not retire until he hit 40.

He made a nuisance of himself in the box, exploited space, invited defenders to assume he was doing nothing and then stabbed the ball into the net with precision. And in 12 seasons in Serie A and Serie B, Dario Hübner only failed to reach double digits once – during his final campaign.

Despite his records, Hübner never represented a top club in Italy and didn’t make his Serie A debut until he was 30 years old. In his first season in Serie A, 1997-98, he scored 16 times for Brescia even though they were relegated.

At the age of 35, he joined Piacenza and became the oldest Capocannoniere in Serie A history (a record later beaten by another man on this list, Luca Toni). The man they nicknamed “the bison” was the ultimate veteran striker.

Luca Toni

Towards the end of a long, nomadic career that included stints at 12 Italian clubs, three successful seasons at Bayern Munich and a bizarre sojourn in Dubai, it looked as if Luca Toni might retire in 2013. Instead, at the age of 36, he made his way to Hellas Verona for the most Indian of summers.

Toni scored 20 league goals for Verona in his debut season as the newly promoted club finished 10th in Serie A. But Toni was just warming up. His second season began slowly, with just five goals before the winter break, but then he seemed to reverse time and it felt like 2006 all over again. He finished the campaign with 22 goals and topped the scoring charts alongside Mauro Icardi, a player 16 years his junior. In the process, Toni he ended Hubner’s 13-year reign as the oldest Capocannoniere in history, a record that may stand for many years.

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