Gianni Rivera, Marco Tardelli, Andrea Pirlo, and more! This article is about the best Italian midfielders of all time.
Italian football is best known for its defenders. Defending is an Italian job, and some of the greatest defenders in the history of football come from this nation. But what about the midfielders?
Among the current best midfielders of Italy national team, are Nicolo Barella, Sandro Tonali, and Manuel Locatelli. It’s almost nothing compared to the rich history that lay behind.
In this article, we take a journey to the history of Italian football and remember its great midfielders. Who are the best Italian midfielders of all time?
Best Italian Midfielders
We’ve compiled a top-ten list of the best Italian midfielders of all time. It became a good list!
Before starting, let’s just say we haven’t considered the winger position here. You won’t even see big names like Roberto Baggio and Francesco Totti on this list. That’s why we didn’t consider them midfielders!
No more explanation is needed. Let’s get to the core of it!
- Adolfo Baloncieri
- Giovanni Ferrari
- Giacomo Bulgarelli
- Valentino Mazzola
- Fulvio Bernardini
If you think that Dino Baggio is Roberto Baggio’s brother, we have to say that you are very wrong. Despite sharing the name, the two Italian footballers have no family relationship. Anyway! Let’s talk about Dino!
He was one of the best Serie A midfielders of the ‘90s. And, of course, one of the best Italian midfielders of all time. Dino Baggio played for Torino, Inter Milan, Juventus, Parma, Lazio, and Blackburn during his career. Baggio was an aggressive, dynamic defensive midfielder with physical strength and outstanding stamina. Tackling ability and good ball distribution were among his indicator characteristics. He was a reliable midfielder.
The best part of Dino’s career was spent at Parma. He was with the club from 1994 to 2000 and achieved great success. Baggio won a Coppa Italia and two UEFA Cup trophies with Parma. He also won the UEFA Cup with Juventus once.
Baggio played 60 matches for the Italy national team during the nineties. He was part of the Azzurri’s squad in the 1994 World Cup and played for his country in all seven matches. He scored two goals for Italy in this tournament. They lost to Brazil in the final and became the runners-up. Dino Baggio also played five matches in the 1998 World Cup.
Read More: Best Italian Footballers of All Time
He is an AC Milan legend. Albertini was one of the best midfielders of his generation and one of the best midfielders in Serie A of all time. Besides Milan, he also played for Lazio, Atalanta, Atletico Madrid, and Barcelona during his career.
Albertini was an AC Milan player from 1988 to 2002. He played 406 games for Rossoneri and scored 28 goals. Albertini is considered one of the best passers of all time. With exceptional passing range and incredible tactical awareness, he was a vital member of his side.
Demetrio Albertini won twelve major trophies with AC Milan, including five Serie A titles and one Champions League title. As one of the best Italian CMs of all time, he was also a very crucial player for the Italy national team. Albertini was an international player from 1991 to 2002 and recorded 79 caps for his country, scoring 3 goals and assisting 19 more. He was one of the best players in the 1994 World Cup, playing for Azzurri in all seven matches.
Read More: Best Matches in Serie A History
Antognoni, a Fiorentina legend, is one of the best Italian midfielders of all time. He was a creative playmaker with a great vision. An elegant and skillful classic number 10, Antognoni is often regarded as one of the most technically gifted Italian players of all time.
Giancarlo Antognoni played for Fiorentina from 1972 to 1987. During his 15 seasons at the club, he played 429 matches for the Violets, scoring 72 goals for his side. Antognoni holds the record for the most appearances in Fiorentina’s history. He is considered one of the greatest players to ever play for the club and one of the best Italian AMs in Serie A history.
Giancarlo Antognoni was an international player from 1974 to 1983. He played 73 games for the Italy national team and scored 7 goals. Antognoni was part of the champion squad in the 1982 World Cup. He delivered three assists in this tournament.
Read More: Greatest Number 10s in Football History
One of the best Italian midfielders of all time and one of the toughest players to ever walk on the field. Gennaro Gattuso was a world-class defensive midfielder with an outstanding ability to win the ball. He was a hard-working midfielder and was always helpful and effective for his side.
Most of Gattuso’s career was spent at AC Milan. He was an AC Milan player from 1999 to 2012. He made 468 appearances for Rossoneri. During his time in Milan, Gennaro Gattuso won ten major trophies, including two league titles and two Champions League titles.
As one of the best Italian DMs of all time, Gattuso played 73 matches for the Italy national team. He was part of the 2006 World Cup champion squad. Gattuso was brilliant in this tournament, making it to the World Cup All-Star team.
In both club and country, Gennaro Gattuso created an iconic partnership with Andrea Pirlo in midfield—a complementary couple with completely different characteristics and qualities, forming a perfect chemistry alongside each other.
Read More: Best Players of the 2000s
Donadoni was a versatile player, capable of playing anywhere in midfield. He is considered one of the best Italian midfielders of all time.
Roberto Donadoni played for clubs like Atalanta, AC Milan, MetroStars, and Al-Ittihad during his career. His prime was spent at AC Milan, of course. He was a Rossoneri player from 1986 to 1996, winning a dozen trophies with the club. Donadoni played 390 games for Milan in total, scoring 23 goals and assisting 60 more. He is regarded as one of the best Italian CMs in Serie A history.
Roberto Donadoni won 17 major trophies with Milan, including six Serie A titles and three European Cup titles. At the international level, he made 63 caps and scored 5 goals, assisting 12 more. He played for Azzurri in the 1990 and 1994 World Cups.
Read More: Best Players of the 1990s
Daniele De Rossi
He is the most-capped midfielder in the Italy national team. A solid defensive midfielder, Daniele De Rossi played for Roma for eighteen years, from 2001 to 2019. De Rossi is regarded as one of the best Italian midfielders of all time.
With 616 appearances for Roma, he is the second most-capped player in the club’s history, behind only Francesco Totti. 63 goals and 60 assists were resulted from his efforts in these 616 matches. He was an energetic, hard-working defensive midfielder with great physical strength and excellent athleticism. In addition to his defensive skills, De Rossi was also known for his passing range and ability to read the game. He is regarded as one of the best Italian DMs in Serie A history.
Daniele De Rossi played 117 matches for his country at the international level, more than any other Italian midfielder. He scored 21 goals for Italy during his international career. De Rossi was part of the 2006 World Cup champion squad.
Read More: Best Players of the 2010s
Marco Tardelli was one of the best players of his generation and one of the greatest Italian midfielders of all time. He played for Pisa, Como, Juventus, Inter Milan, and St. Gallen during his career. A box-to-box midfielder, Tardelli was known for his effectiveness in both defense and offense. He possessed both defensive and attacking skills and was considered a complete midfielder.
The best part of Marco Tardelli’s career was spent at Juventus. He played for Bianconeri from 1975 to 1985, playing 375 matches for the club and scoring 52 goals. Tardelli won eleven major trophies with Juventus, including five Serie A titles and one European Cup title.
Hailed as one of the Italy national team best midfielders of all time, Marco Tardelli made 81 caps for his county at the international level. He played for Azzurri in two World Cups. Tardelli was a key player for Italy in the 1982 World Cup, displaying a brilliant performance during the tournament. Tardelli scored the second goal for his side in the final match against West Germany. His celebration after scoring this goal is considered one of the most iconic moments in World Cup history.
Read More: Best Players of the 1980s
Sandro Mazzola was a versatile player and was able to play in several different positions. As one of the best Italian midfielders of all time, Mazzola spent his entire career at Inter Milan. He is seen as one of the greatest legends in the club’s history.
Sandro Mazzola was known for his excellent athleticism and exceptional work-rate. He was also very quick and technically skillful. Mazzola possessed high tactical intelligence as well. But perhaps his most impressive feature was his ability to score goals.
Sandro Mazzola was an Inter Milan player from 1960 to 1977. With 565 appearances for Nerazzurri, Mazzola is the fourth most-capped player in the club’s history. With a tally of 160, he is the fourth all-time top scorer for Inter. He was a key member of the powerful side of Inter Milan in the sixties, known as Grande Inter. He won four Serie A titles and two European Cup titles with Nerazzurri.
One of the best Italian AMs of all time, Sandro Mazzola, played for Azzurri in the ‘60s and early ‘70s. He made 70 international caps and scored 22 goals. Mazzola reached the 1970 World Cup final with the Italy national team. They lost to Brazil in the final and became the runners-up.
Sandro Mazzola came second in the final Ballon d’Or rankings in 1971, behind only Johan Cruyff.
Read More: Inter History – All about the Club
Gianni Rivera is one of the best Italian midfielders of all time and one of the greatest midfielders in football history. A delicate and technically gifted playmaker with great creativity and an eye for goal. Regarded as one of the best passers in the history of the sport.
Gianni Rivera played for AC Milan for nineteen years, from 1960 to 1979. He captained Rossoneri for twelve years, becoming one of the greatest legends in the club’s history. With 658 appearances, Rivera is the fourth most-capped player for AC Milan. He is also the club’s third all-time top scorer, with a tally of 164.
Gianni Rivera won three Serie A titles, two European Cup titles, and a Ballon d’Or during his career. He won the 1969 Ballon d’Or and also came second in 1963. He was one of the best players of his generation.
As one of the best midfielders of all time, Gianni Rivera was an international player from 1962 to 1974, recording 60 caps for the Azzurri. He scored the winning goal in a thrilling match against West Germany in the 1970 World Cup semi-finals. Italy won the Game of the Century 4-3 and went to the final.
Read More: Best Players of the 1960s
A maestro. One of the greatest midfielders to ever walk on the field. A beautiful mind created for the beautiful game.
Name a better deep-lying playmaker than Pirlo. We will be waiting! The Italian regista was unparalleled in terms of vision, creativity, and passing range. His ball control and technical ability were only comparable to the best in history. Very few could take a free kick as good as him. He was the god of crosses and the king of corners!
Andrea Pirlo played for Brescia, Inter Milan, Reggina, AC Milan, Juventus, and New York City during his career. He is best remembered for his time at Milan and Juventus. Pirlo won six Serie A titles and two Champions League titles with these two clubs, playing a crucial role in winning all of them.
He also played a crucial role in Azzurri’s championship in the 2006 World Cup. He was selected as the Man of the Match in the tournament’s final. The only goal Italy scored in this match was from Pirlo’s skillful corner.
Andrea Pirlo played for his country in 116 international matches, scoring 13 goals and providing 25 assists. He was the best Italian midfielder of all time, I think.
Until another mother gives birth to a child like him.