Gabriel Batistuta (born 1 February 1969 in Reconquista, Santa Fe
Province of Argentina) is a world-famous footballer. He played
most of his club football at Fiorentina. He is also the highest
scorer of Argentina's national team.
Gabriel Omar Batistuta was born on 1 February 1969 to
slaughterhouse worker Omar Batistuta and school secretary Gloria
Batistuta in the town of Avellaneda, Santa Fe Province,
Argentina, but grew up in the near city of Reconquista. After
him, his parents Omar and Gloria Batistuta had three girls named
Elisa, Alejandra and Gabriela.
At the age of 16 he met the love of his life on her 15th
birthday (which is pompously celebrated in Argentina). It is
said that Irina Fernandez completely ignored him at the
beginning, but some 5 years later, on the 28th of December,
1990, Irina and Gabriel were married at the Saint Roque Church.
The couple moved to Florence in 1991, and a year later their son
Thiago was born.
Thanks to good performances in the Italian championship and with
the Argentinean National Team, he gained fame and respect. He
participated in several commercials, and was invited to numerous
TV shows. In spite of this, Batistuta always reminded a low-profile
family person. A hero in Florence, the city erected a life-size
bronze statue with his figure in recognition of his 100 matches
In 1996, during Fiorentina's 2-1 victory at A.C. Milan, he
celebrated scoring the match's decisive goal by saying Te amo,
Irina ('I love you, Irina') to the cameras. The mix of sex
appeal with faithful lover cemented Batistuta's reputation among
In 1997 Batistuta's second son, Lucas, was born, and a third
son, Joaquín, followed in 1999. In 2000 the Batistuta family
moved to Rome and two years later to Milan, following Gabriel's
changes of team. In 2002, after more than 10 years in Italy, the
family moved to Qatar. A fourth son, Shamel, was born in 2003.
After his retirement Batistuta plans to go back to his home
Argentina, and live in the country fields he bought with his
As a child he prefered other sports. Due to his height he played
basketball, but after Argentina's victory in the 1978 World Cup,
in which he was particularly impressed by the skills of Mario
Kempes, he devoted himself to football. After playing with
friends on the streets and in the small Grupo Alegria club, he
joined the local Platense junior team.
While with Platense he was selected for the Reconquista team
with which he won the provincial championship against Newell's
Old Boys from Rosario, also in Santa Fe Province. His 2 goals
called their attention, and he signed for them in 1988.
He therefore joined the professional football club of Newell's
Old Boys Club, whose coach was Marcelo Bielsa, who was later
also his coach in the National Team.
Things didn't come easy for him during the first year. He was
away from home, his family and his girlfriend Irina, sleeping in
a room in the stadium, and had a weight problem that slowed him
down. At the end of that year he was lent to the smaller team
Deportivo Italiano, of Buenos Aires, with whom he participated
in the Carnevale Cup in Italy, ending as top scorer with 3 goals.
At mid-1989 he made a jump to one of Argentina's biggest clubs,
River Plate, where he scored 17 goals, but in mid-season coach
Daniel Passarella (with whom he had later confrontation as they
met in the national team) dropped him from the team.
In 1990 Batistuta signed for the other biggest Argentinean team,
Boca Juniors, who he was already keen on. Having gone so long
without playing he again found it hard to find his best form. At
the begging of 1991 Oscar Tabárez became Boca's coach, and gave
Batistuta support and confidence to become top scorer of that
season, winning the local championship.
Also in 1991, Batistuta was also selected to play for Argentina
in the Copa América held in Chile, where he was again both
champion and top scorer with 6 goals.
It was during that competition that the vice-president of
Fiorentina got the chance to see Gabriel's qualities, and signed
him right away. Unhappily, Fiorentina were relegated at the end
of that season to the Serie B (second division), in spite of
Batistuta's 13 goals. After two years, with 16 goals of
Batistuta's and under the coaching of Claudio Ranieri,
Fiorentina returned to the Serie A.
In 1993 Batistuta played his second Copa América, this time in
Ecuador, which Argentina again won. The 1994 World Cup, held in
the USA, was a disappointment: after a very promising start
Argentina were beaten by Romania in the quarter-final stage, the
morale of the team seriously affected by Diego Maradona's
On his return to Fiorentina Batistuta showed his best football,
becoming 1994-1995 top scorer with 26 goals and breaking Ezio
Pascutti's 30 year old record by scoring in all of the first 11
matches of the season. In the 1995-1996 season Fiorentina won
the Italian Cup and Super Coppa.
During the qualification matches for the 1998 World Cup, with
Passarella now coaching the Argentinean team, Batistuta was left
out for most of the games. Finally playing at the World Cup
finals, he scored 5 goals in that competition, before Argentina
lost 2-1 in the quarterfinals against the Netherlands.
After yet another failure to win a championship of importance,
Batistuta started considering a transfer to a bigger team. But,
partly in an effort to keep Batistuta, Fiorentina hired Giovanni
Trapattoni as coach and promised to do everything to gain a
scudetto local championship. After an excellent start to the
season, Batistuta suffered an injury that kept him off the field
for more than a month. Losing momentum and their star striker,
Fiorentina lost the lead and finished the season in the third
position, which at least gave them the chance to participate in
the Champions League.
Good-bye to Fiorentina
Again, Batistuta was held for the 1999-2000 season by the chance
of winning both the Scudetto and the Champions League. But, not
fulfilling his dream, he decided to move to A.S. Roma in a
transfer worth 30 million US dollars.
In spite of a knee injury that kept him out for a few matches,
he scored 20 goals for A.S. Roma and finally realized his dream:
the Italian first division Scudetto. It was also the first
championship won by Roma since 1983.
After an incredible performance by the Argentina in the
qualification matches for the 2002 World Cup, undefeated for
almost 2 years, Batistuta planned to quit the National Team by
the end of the tournament, and certainly hoped to do it holding
the Trophy. But Argentina's "group of death" proved to be so, as
with results 1-0, 0-1 and 1-1 against Nigeria, England and
Sweden the team had to go home before the second round for the
first time since 1962.
In 2004, he was named to the FIFA 100 list of 125 Greatest
Back to Italy, Batistuta failed to find form with Roma and was
loaned out to Internazionale, where he failed to make any
impression. He ended his career playing in Qatar for Al-Arabi
before retiring in 2005.
Physical data: Height 1.85 m, weight 73 kg
First professional match: September 25, 1988. San Martín
(Tucumán) 1 - Newell's Old Boys 0
First professional goal: May 16, 1989. Newell's Old Boys 3 -
First National Team match: March 27, 1991. Brazil 0 - Argentina
First National Team goal: July 8, 1991. Argentina 3 - Venezuela
Last National Team match: June 2, 2002. Argentina 1 - Nigeria 0.
Last National Team goal: June 12, 2002. Argentina 1 - Sweden 1.
78 National Team matches with 56 goals.
First Division (Serie A) Italian Championship (with A.S. Roma)
Argentine Football Writers' Footballer of the Year 1998.
Italian Cup (with Fiorentina) 1995-1996.
Second Division (Serie B) Italian Championship (with Fiorentina)
First Division Top Scorer, 26 goals (with Fiorentina) 1994-1955
Copa América (with Argentina) 1991, 1993
Copa América Top Scorer, 6 goals (with Argentina) 1991