14 Serie A strikers who defied age: Quagliarella, Di Natale, Totti…
Serie A has often been looked upon as a league which is friendly to strikers in the twilight of their career – and not without reason.
Whether it’s down to better passers behind them or a generally slower pace of play, the list of high-scoring veterans was healthy enough even before a 33-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo rocked up at Juventus.
Here are 14 older hands who enjoyed double-figure seasons aged 33 or older – one or two of them were even older than that when they troubled the upper reaches of the goalscoring charts.
The Portuguese icon – arguably the most high-profile signing in the history of the Italian top flight – was 33 when he arrived.
At that point he was already Portugal and Real Madrid’s all-time top scorer, as well as top of the scoring charts for the storied history of the European Cup.
He scored 81 goals in 99 Serie A appearances for Juventus and broke Andriy Shevchenko’s record for being the fastest player to reach 50 goals in the history of the competition.
Back in 2018-19, Quagliarella matched Gabriel Batistuta’s 1994 record of scoring in 11 straight games in the competition and went on to score 26 goals for the campaign, beating Ronaldo to the Capocannoniere aware for Serie A’s top scorer.
He was 35 at the time, and has since gone on to make it five successive seasons hitting double figures for league goals for Sampdoria. Not bad for a man who made his top-flight debut in May 2000 and played (and scored) for his country at the 2010 World Cup.
One of his 19 goals in the 2017-18 campaign showed more athleticism and creativity that most are capable of. He’s still going at the age of 38, because of course he is.
Antonio Di Natale
Antonio Di Natale has never been young or old, he has just been Antonio di Natale. The ageing process, to him, has always been more a suggestion than a reality.
Di Natale scored more than 150 goals in Serie A after his 30th birthday, scoring 23 from 33 games during a season in which he celebrated turning 35, and adding a further 31 across the following two campaigns.
‘Tony Christmas’ even signed off with a goal, slotting a penalty past Simone Colombi – a man nearly 14 years his junior.
The Divine Ponytail was still at it a full 10 years after his infamous World Cup final penalty miss, seeing out his playing days with Brescia after reportedly been close to a move to Derby County in the late 90s.
In each of his four seasons under Carlo Mazzone and then Gianni de Biasi, Baggio ended the campaign with double figures. His final Serie A goal, in a win over Lazio in 2004, came three months after his 37th birthday.
Klose signed for Lazio on his 33rd birthday, but few were worried about the German striker’s pedigree when he moved to Italy for the first time – he might have had a quiet couple of domestic seasons with Bayern Munich before the summer of 2011, but only four players bettered his four goals at the 2010 World Cup.
Indeed, it didn’t take long for the former Werder Bremen man to show his worth in the capital, hitting double figures in three of his five seasons and scoring in each of his last three Lazio games at the age of 37.
There can’t be too many players who have scored five in a single Serie A game at all, let alone a month shy of turning 35 years old.
Alessandro Del Piero
You get the sense Del Piero would probably score a few goals if he was still playing now, even though he’s 44 years old.
The Juventus legend turned 33 before the end of his final 20-goal league season, and fired home 21 in all competitions the year after that.
His final Juve goal came at the age of 37, but he kept going beyond his 40th birthday, seeing out his career in Sydney and Delhi.
The original king of keeping going well into his 30s, Hübner paid his dues in the lower divisions before becoming the oldest ever Capocannoniere winner when he scored a whopping 24 goals for 12th-placed Piacenza in the 2001-02 season at the age of 35.
That was hardly a one-off, either. The previous year he had fired home 17 for Brescia, and the 2002-03 season, in a relegated Piacenza side, he still chipped in with 14. Not bad for a man who had to wait until he was 30 to score his first-ever Serie A goal.
Hübner’s ‘oldest top scorer’ record stood for more than a decade, and you could have been forgiven for thinking it would never be topped, but Luca Toni was the ideal man to claim the record.
The 2006 World Cup winner was still going strong nearly a decade later, registering back-to-back 20-goal seasons for Hellas Verona. The second of those saw him finish on 22 goals in the 2014-15 season: level with Mauro Icardi and ahead of the likes of Tevez, Higuaín and Dybala.
He scored the 22nd of those goals, a final day strike against champions Juventus, at the age of 38 years and three days.
Totti kept playing until he was 40, bowing out after an emotional goodbye to the Roma fans, and his goalscoring exploits continued well into his 30s, even if he featured less frequently towards the end of his career.
After turning 36 at the start of the 2012-13 season, he scored 12 goals including an equalising penalty in the derby draw against Lazio. His strike partner that day, Erik Lamela, was less than a month old when Totti made his professional debut.
Marco Di Vaio
Marco Di Vaio scored his first Serie A goal for Lazio against Padova in 1994, and 14 years later he was embarking on a run of four straight double-figure seasons in a Bologna shirt.
The journeyman striker scored 19 goals at the age of 34 and another 10 after his 35th birthday, before going on to smash in 20 for Montreal Impact in one Major League Soccer season. Remarkably, during Di Vaio’s last Bologna season, the club was unbeaten in games in which he found the net – including meetings with Milan, Inter and Juve.
Three seasons after becoming one of the many West Ham strikers of the Gold and Sullivan era, Borriello was back in Serie A with Cagliari at the age of 34.
Two uninspiring seasons with Carpi and Atalanta in the intervening period meant fans of the newly-promoted team could have been forgiven for keeping their hopes in check, but Borriello somehow recorded his second-best goalscoring campaign ever.
His final tally of 16 in 2016-17 was more than he managed in a single season for Milan, Roma, or even in his top-scoring return to Genoa.
A team-mate of Baggio’s at the 1994 World Cup, Signori enjoyed six seasons at Bologna after joining the club at 30 and hit double figures in four of those.
The 34-year-old Signori scored 12 league goals in the 2002-03 season, and even chipped in with four in the Intertoto Cup, before adding a handful the following season including a strike against former club Lazio.
Lucarelli was a success story at a couple of clubs, but he never felt more at home than when he was at his hometown club of Livorno.
The vocal communist scored 100 goals in his first four Livorno seasons, helping them earn promotion to Serie A and establish themselves in the top flight, and returned with a vengeance after the club was promoted in 2009.
He scored 10 goals in a campaign which ultimately ended in relegation, the undoubted highlight being a hat-trick in a 3-3 draw with Roma a few months after his 34th birthday.
Yes, that Massimo Maccarone. The former Middlesbrough striker, who made his Italy debut in 2002, was still scoring goals in Serie A a decade and a half later, having helped Empoli – the club where he made his name – return to the top table.
After turning 35 in September 2014, he scored 10 goals that season and 13 the next, helping Empoli to 15th and 10th-place finishes.
He chipped in a little less frequently as they were relegated in the 2016-17 campaign but did contribute five goals in his final year, including a winner over Palermo.