Gabriel Omar Batistuta, born on February 1, 1969, is a retired professional football player from Argentina. He was known as “Batigol” and “El Ángel Gabriel” during his career. He was famous for his powerful shots, especially when he kicked the ball while running or from a distance. In 1999, he came in third place for the FIFA World Player of the Year award. In 2004, Pelé included him in the FIFA 100 list of the world’s greatest living players.
Batistuta started his career in Argentina in 1988 with Newell’s Old Boys. Later, he played for River Plate and Boca Juniors, winning titles with both teams. However, he spent most of his club career playing for Fiorentina in Italy’s Serie A. He is Fiorentina’s all-time top scorer in Serie A with 151 goals. When Fiorentina was demoted to Serie B in 1993, Batistuta chose to stay with the team and helped them return to the top league the following year. He became a beloved figure in Florence, where the fans even erected a life-sized bronze statue of him in 1996 to honor his contributions to the club. Despite winning the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana with Fiorentina in 1996, he never won the Serie A title with them. However, when he transferred to Roma in 2000 for €36 million (at that time, the highest fee ever paid for a player over 30 years old), he won the Serie A title in the 2000-01 season. After a brief loan period with Inter Milan in 2003, he spent his last two seasons playing in Qatar with Al-Arabi before retiring in 2005.
At the international level, Batistuta was Argentina’s top goal scorer of all time with 56 goals in 78 official matches. He held this record until June 21, 2016, when Lionel Messi surpassed him. Batistuta took part in three FIFA World Cups and scored 10 goals, making him Argentina’s second-highest goal scorer in the World Cup after Messi. He is also the tenth-highest goal scorer in World Cup history. Notably, Batistuta is the only player in soccer history to score two hat-tricks in different World Cups. With the Argentina national team, he won two consecutive Copa América titles in 1991 and 1993, the 1993 CONMEBOL–UEFA Cup of Champions, and the 1992 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Gabriel Batistuta was a quick, hardworking, and powerful soccer player known for his scoring ability and overall skills. He’s considered one of the most complete and feared strikers of his generation. As a striker, he stood out for his technique, smart positioning, strength in the air, and his ability to score with both feet from almost anywhere on the field, even though he was naturally right-footed.
Batistuta had a great sense of where to be on the field and could predict defenders’ moves in the penalty area. He was known for scoring acrobatic goals, like volleys and bicycle kicks, and for taking quick shots from tight angles while on the run. He was also excellent at heading the ball and taking powerful free-kicks, although he was not always as reliable with penalty kicks.
Aside from his skills and scoring prowess, Batistuta was a leader on the field and known for playing fairly. Even Diego Maradona, one of the greatest players in soccer history, said that Batistuta was the best striker he had ever seen.
Batistuta had a distinctive goal celebration with both arms raised and fists clenched, which is featured in his statue alongside those of Maradona and Messi in Buenos Aires. He also had a unique celebration where he pretended to fire a machine gun.
Unfortunately, Batistuta’s career was plagued by injuries, especially in his later years, which eventually led to his retirement.