Famous Italian Soccer Players

Unfortunately Italy crashed out at the group stages of this world cup, so to remember their better efforts in previous years here’s a list of famous Italian soccer players. Italy have already won the world cup four times- in 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006. Cleary they could not regain their title in 2010, but perhaps they’ll regain it next time. So here’s a quick summary of some of their best and most well known players from past and present. This list is not intended to be totally comprehensive, but should give a useful introduction to some of the ‘greats’.

Dino Zoff


Position: Goalkeeper

Detail: He made 143 appearances for Napoli and 330 for Juventus, in addition to playing for Udinese and Mantova.

Achievements: World Cup winning captain in 1982. For Juventus he won 6 league titles and the UEFA Cup. From September 1973 until June 1974, for a run of 12 matches and 1143 minutes of soccer, he did not concede a single international goal.

Gianluigi Buffon


Position: Goalkeeper

Details: He has first played for Parma, before moving to Juventus for a record goalie transfer fee of 32 million euros.

Achievements: He was named in Pele’s top 125 players of all time list. He was ranked as the best goalkeeper and most valuable player at the 2003 UEFA European Football Awards. He helped Italy win the 2006 world cup and was named the tournament’s best keeper.

Francesco Toldo


Position: Goalkeeper

Detail: He has played for Trento, Fiorentina, AC Milan and Inter Milan. Until the age of 13 he played at right back, before switching to keeper!

Achievements: He helped Italy to 2nd place in Euro 2000. He also was included in the squads for the 1996 Euro Championships, the 1998 World Cup, the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004.

Franco Baresi


Position: Sweeper/Central Defender

Detail: Known for his tough tackling, he played for AC Milan for 20 years and his number 6 shirt was retired in his honour.

Achievements: He was the captain for Italy at the 1994 World Cup.

Gaetano Scirea


Position: Sweeper/Central Defender

Detail: He is a Juventus legend. Dino Zoff called him “an extraordinary man and footballer. An example of style and class both on the field and off it”.

Achievements: He won 2 Italian Cups, 1 UEFA Cup, 1 Cup Winners Cup, 1 European Cup, 1 European Super Cup, 1 InterContinental Cup and 1 World Cup.

Alessandro Nesta


Position: Central Defender

Detail: He is world famous for his power and confidence as one of the great centre-backs for Italy and AC Milan.

Achievements: He won the 2006 World Cup with Italy and has won many other major honours, trophies and awards.

Paolo Maldini


Position: Defender

Detail: He made his debut for AC Milan in 1985.

Achievements: With AC Milan he won various competitions and his honours include 7 league titles, 1 Italian Cup and 5 League SuperCups amongst others.

Fabio Cannavaro


Position: Defender

Detail: He has played for Napoli, Parma, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid.

Achievements: He won the 2006 World Cup with Italy, whilst also being awarded the prestigious Golden Ball in that tournament. He has been ranked the best defender in the Italian league.

Giacinto Facchetti


Position: Full back

Detail: He played for 476 times for Inter and scord 78 goals. He captained Italy 70 times out of 94 appearences. He could run 100m in 11 seconds despite weighing-in at 85kg.

Achievements: He won 2 European Cups with Inter in 1964 and 1965, in addition to winning 4 league titles. He also won the European Championship in 1968.

Gianni Rivera


Position: Midfielder

Detail: He played for Allesandria and AC Milan, appearing 658 times for the latter and scoring 164 goals.

Achievements: With AC Milan he won 3 League Titles, 2 Champions League cups, 4 Italian Cups and 1 European/South American Cup. In 1969 he became the first Italian to win the Golden Ball.

Valentino Mazzola


Position: Midfielder

Detail: He moved from Venezia to Torino in a transfer worth 200,000 lira plus 2 players. He captained the Grande Torino side and in 1949 tragically died with the team in an air disaster.

Achievements: He scored on his debut for the national side in 1942. He scored 118 times in 195 appearances for Torino over 7 years. He scored 4 goals in 12 matches for Italy.

Andrea Pirlo


Position: Midfielder

Detail: He has played for Brescia, Inter, Reggina and AC Milan

Achievements: He was a World Cup winner in 2006, winning the Bronze Ball and making the team of the tournament. He made the FIFPro World XI in that year and was man of the match in the World Cup final.

Roberto Baggio


Position: Striker/Winger

Detail: He played for Vicenza and Fiorentina, before moving to Juventus in 1990 for a record deal of $20 million. He then played for AC Milan, Bologna, Inter Milan and Brescia.

Achievements: He won the UEFA Cup in 1993. He has also been named the FIFA World Player of the Year and European Footballer of the Year.

Paolo Rossi


Position: Striker

Detail: He was 1.74m and 66kg, so he was not a physical presence. Nevertheless this was compensated for by his natural goalscoring ability and his being in the right place at the right time.

Achievements: He scored 6 goals to help Italy win the World Cup in 1982. In that tournament he won the Golden Boot (top scorer) and the Golden Ball (best player). In the same year, he won both the World and European Footballer of the Year awards.

Luigi ‘Gigi’ Riva


Position: Striker

Detail: He was known for his pace and footballing intelligence, as well as his speedy reactions and ability in the air. His powerful shots earned him the name ‘Rombo di Tuono’, meaning ‘Sound of Thunder’.

Achievements: 1965-1974 he scored 35 goals in 42 matches for Italy and this made him their highest all time goal scorer.

Giuseppe Meazza


Position: Striker

Detail: He played for Inter. The San Siro is now officially named after him

Achievements: He won the World Cup with Italy in 1934 and 1938. He scored 243 goals in 361 games for Inter. He scored a record 31 goals in his debut season in Serie A.

Francesco Totti


Position: Striker

Detail: He made his national debut in 1998, but retired from international soccer in July, 2007.

Achievements: He was man of the match in the final of Euro 2000. He was selected for the All-Star Team of the 2006 World Cup. In 2006-2007 he won the golden boot for the most club goals in Europe.

Alessandro Del Piero


Position: Striker

Detail: He played at Padova 1991-1993 and has spent the rest of his career at Juventus

Achievements: Del Piero is the top goal scorer of all time for Juventus, and was the top goal scorer in the Champions’ League in 95/96 and 97/98. He won the World Cup with Italy in 2006 and, at club level, has won the Champions League, 5 Italian Championships, 4 Italian Super Cups and more.


So there are some of the most famous Italian soccer players of all time. As was suggested at the beginning, however, this is not a totally comprehensive list but a useful introduction to a few stars. If you know of many other legendary Italian players then why not compile your own list in the comments section below?

Have fun,

Soccer Geek

PS: Who is your favourite Italian soccer player of all time?