After playing his first Serie A game for Piacenza at the age of 17, Alberto Gilardino had to wait three years for the chance to really make his mark in the Italian top flight with Parma, for whom he scored 50 goals in 96 games over three seasons.

 

Between 2000 and 2004 he struck 19 times in 30 outings for Italy's U-21 side, helping them win the UEFA European Under-21 Championship and the bronze medal at the Men's Olympic Football Tournament Athens 2004. To this day he remains Gli Azzurrini's all-time top scorer.

 

Gilardino won his first senior cap under Marcello Lippi, playing in Italy's 2-1 win over Norway on 4 September 2004. From then he became a regular part of the squad, and scored against United States on the way to winning the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™.

 

An all-round striker, Gilardino provides a strong aerial presence, holds up the ball well and is a clinical finisher. He scored 36 goals in 94 matches for AC Milan, then managed 48 in 118 appearances for Fiorentina before joining his current club, Bologna, in 2012. 

 

Gilardino was overlooked by former Italy coach Roberto Donadoni for UEFA EURO 2008, but regained his place following Marcelo Lippi's return and played in La Nazionale's first two games of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He has also featured several times under Cesare Prandelli, despite Italian football's recent shift towards younger players.