Where Francesco Totti Ranks Alongside Serie A's 20 Best Forwards
In the misery that was their 2012/13 season, one moment stood out for AS Roma. A 70th-minute foul on Francesco Totti late in a game in which they were already winning seemed innocuous enough, but every one at the Stadio Olimpico knew history was in the making.
The captain picked himself up and set down the ball on the edge of the area, seeking to beat Parma's Antonio Mirante. The goalkeeper had already denied him on a number of occasions, but Totti would not be denied again.
As his low driven shot settled into the back of the net, the then 36-year-old turned and saluted the supporters who had always championed him. Since he made his first-team debut back in 1992, the Giallorossi faithful had backed him reverently, recognising he was one of them, a Roma fan representing the team on the field.
Never truly close to leaving his home-town side, Totti has been criticised more than almost any other player by those outside the capital, but where does he rank among the all-time greats? That free kick against Parma made him the second-highest goalscorer in Serie A history, staking an undeniable claim among the very best.
Over the following pages are those 20 best strikers to ever grace the Italian top flight, ranked in order of both goals and impact upon Serie A.
20. Roberto Mancini
Appearances: 541 Goals: 156 League Titles: 2 Serie A Top Scorer: None
A huge part of Sampdoria's 1991 Scudetto, Roberto Mancini sits seventh in Serie A's all-time appearances list and is the 18th-highest scorer in the history of the league. Despite his fiery temperament, he earned a reputation as an excellent leader and helped a big-spending Lazio deliver trophies under Sven-Goran Eriksson.
His fruitful partnership with Gianluca Vialli at Sampdoria is one of the finest ever, dubbed "The Goal Twins," as they fired the Genovese side to unprecedented success.
19. Filippo Inzaghi
Appearances: 370 Goals: 156 League Titles: 3 Serie A Top Scorer: 1
Eternally offside, Filippo Inzaghi managed to stay on the right side of the linesman's flag to net at an astonishing rate. Breaking onto the scene with Piacenza, Inzaghi captured the top scorer title with Atalanta in the 1996/97 season, which earned him a move to Juventus.
There, he and Alessandro Del Piero never truly gelled, and it would be at Milan where "Super Pippo" truly made his name. Vital goals in both Serie A and the Champions League endeared him to the Rossoneri faithful, and he remains with the club as a youth team coach.
18. Giuseppe Signori
Appearances: 344 Goals: 188 League Titles: None Serie A Top Scorer: 3
Despite never winning a trophy as a professional, Giuseppe Signori scored freely, ending his career as the league's eighth-highest goalscorer ever.
17. Sandro Mazzola
Appearances: 417 Goals: 116 League Titles: 4 Serie A Top Scorer: 1
The Inter legend Sandro Mazzola spent his entire career with the Milanese club, making his debut in a controversial 9-1 loss to Juventus. He would lead them through a glorious era, however, lifting two European Cups. He ranks among the top 10 in terms of goals and appearances for the Nerazzurri.
16. John Charles
Appearances: 160 Goals: 97 League Titles: 3 Serie A Top Scorer: 1
John Charles is still held in high esteem on the peninsula today, remembered as a towering striker who always played fair.
The Welshman formed part of an excellent post-war Juventus side, helping them emerge from the shadow of city neighbours Torino, who had previously dominated Italian football. He never recaptured his best form in a brief stint at Roma, but will always be recalled fondly in Turin.
15. Jose Altafini
Appearances: 456 Goals: 216 League Titles: 4 Serie A Top Scorer: 1
The fourth-highest goalscorer in Serie A history, Jose Altafini helped Juventus, Milan and Napoli win trophies. He also represented both Italy and Brazil, winning the 1958 World Cup with the South American side.
His two goals against Benfica delivered the first European Cup in Milan history, but his scoring prowess wound down by the time he reached Juventus, where he netted just 25 times in four seasons.
14. Omar Sivori
Appearances: 278 Goals: 147 League Titles: 3 Serie A Top Scorer: 1
The original diminutive Argentinian No. 10, Omar Sivori cost Juventus a world-record transfer fee when he joined in 1957. Teaming up with John Charles, Sivori would help the Bianconeri usher in a new era of success.
He scored six goals in a single game for La Madama against Inter, which remains a club record, and was the European Player of the Year in 1961. He went on to Napoli, where he helped the southern side lift the Coppa delle Alpi.
13. Giampiero Boniperti
Appearances: 443 Goals: 178 League Titles: 5 Serie A Top Scorer: 1
Before Alessandro Del Piero came along, Giampiero Boniperti held almost every record at Juventus. Since surpassed by the younger man, Boniperti retired as the club's leading scorer and appearance-maker.
Vital to the John Charles-Omar Sivori sides, Boniperti moved into midfield to make room for the duo, subverting his game for the betterment of the team. He returned as club president and oversaw even more success.
12. Gianluca Vialli
Appearances: 410 Goals: 146 League Titles: 2 Serie A Top Scorer: 1
Firing Sampdoria to glory, Gianluca Vialli would enjoy a stellar career which began with that 1991 Scudetto. He was the league's top scorer that year and was unlucky not to lift the European Cup the following season at Wembley.
He would manage that feat as captain of Juventus, however, and also won the UEFA Cup and another league title there. From there he would move to Chelsea, helping the London club to yet more glory.
11. Gabriel Batistuta
Appearances: 318 Goals: 184 League Titles: 1 Serie A Top Scorer: 1
When a club's supporters build a statue for a player still in the team, you're doing something right, and that is exactly what happened at Fiorentina with Gabriel Batistuta. The Argentinian striker is synonymous with the Viola, staying with them when they suffered relegation in 1993 and earning their eternal gratitude.
He would eventually move on to Roma and then Inter in search of titles, firing the former to the league title in 2001. He ranks as the 11th-highest scorer in Serie A history and helped his national side to two Copa America victories.
10. Gigi Riva
Appearances: 289 Goals: 156 League Titles: 1 Serie A Top Scorer: 3
Simply a giant of the game, Gigi Riva fired minnows Cagliari to the 1970 Serie A title, whilst also helping Italy to their only European Championship victory in 1968. A towering, barrel-chested player, he was known by the nickname "Rombo di Tuono" (Rumble of Thunder).
His No. 11 shirt was retired by the Sardinian club, and he remains the Italian national team's all-time leading scorer with 35 goals in just 42 appearances.
9. Silvio Piola
Appearances: 537 Goals: 274 League Titles: None Serie A Top Scorer: 2
Silvio Piola is the leading scorer in Serie A history but never won a league title. Spending time with Pro Vercelli, Lazio, Torino, Juventus and Novara, he only ever managed second place.
Also important in Italy's 1938 World Cup win, the striker is fourth in overall appearances in Serie A, while being the only player to be the highest scorer at three different clubs.
8. Marco van Basten
Appearances: 147 Goals: 90 League Titles: 3 Serie A Top Scorer: 2
His career cut short by injury, Marco van Basten enjoyed six trophy-laden seasons with Milan. In addition to three league titles, the Rossoneri lifted two European Cups and two Intercontinental Cups during his San Siro stay.
Also firing the Netherlands to the 1988 European Championship, he was a phenomenal goalscorer who found the back of the net with staggering regularity.
7. Roberto Baggio
Appearances: 452 Goals: 205 League Titles: 2 Serie A Top Scorer: None
Arguably the most gifted Italian player of all time, Roberto Baggio has netted fewer Serie A goals than only five others. Superb at Bologna and Brescia, he is perhaps best remembered for carrying Juventus during their early 1990 struggles and restoring them to the top of Serie A in 1995.
In 1993, he was named FIFA World Player of the Year, and 12 months later would drag the Azzurri to the World Cup final almost singlehandedly.
6. Francesco Totti
Appearances: 551 Goals: 232 League Titles: 1 Serie A Top Scorer: 1
So here we find Francesco Totti, with just five players deemed more influential than the Roma captain. Leading his club in terms of both goals and appearances, he requires another 42 strikes to overhaul Silvio Piola atop the Serie A standings.
Given opportunities to leave, Totti chose to remain with his home-town club, putting his love of the Giallorossi over trophies and individual accolades. Roma supporters may not agree with his placing, but sixth on this list recognises all he has done for his club and country.
5. Gunnar Nordahl
Appearances: 291 Goals: 225 League Titles: 2 Serie A Top Scorer: 5
An incredible scoring rate shows just how great Gunnar Nordahl was, a fact which is only intensified when realising he was already 27 years old when he joined Milan. No player has won more top-scoring titles than the Swedish striker, who remains the Rossoneri's all time highest goal-getter.
4. Diego Maradona
Appearances: 188 Goals: 81 League Titles: 2 Serie A Top Scorer: 1
Far more than just a goalscorer, Diego Maradona is arguably the greatest player of all time, yet sits fourth here, a testament to the goalscoring exploits of others. His impact on Napoli is immeasurable, taking the small club from the brink of Serie B to the champions of Europe.
Unstoppable on the field, Maradona was responsible for his own demise but forever captivated the heart of a generation. He remains Napoli's all-time leading scorer with 115 goals for the club, a record Edinson Cavani came close to capturing.
3. Alessandro Del Piero
Appearances: 478 Goals: 188 League Titles: 8 Serie A Top Scorer: 1
A season in Serie B may have held him to eighth place in Serie A's list of highest scorers, but no player has won more league titles than Alessandro Del Piero. He leads Juventus in terms of both goals and appearances, capturing both records from Giampiero Boniperti, the very man who brought him to Turin as a youngster.
2. Valentino Mazzola
Appearances: 258 Goals: 148 League Titles: 5 Serie A Top Scorer: 1
Truly a tale of what might have been, Valentino Mazzola might be the most underrated player in history. Captain of the Grande Torino side which perished in the Superga disaster, he was simply an unstoppable force in pre-war Italian football.
He helped Venezia to a Coppa Italia victory before he moved to Turin, but it was at the Stadio Filadelfia where he wrote his legend. Largely unheralded outside of the peninsula, he remains perhaps the greatest all-round player Italy has ever produced.
1. Giuseppe Meazza
Appearances: 367 Goals: 216 League Titles: 3 Serie A Top Scorer: 3
The man after whom the San Siro stadium is named, Giuseppe Meazza represented both Milanese clubs and Juventus during a career which spanned 20 seasons. He also played a major role in Italy winning both the 1934 and 1938 editions of the World Cup; he captained the Azzurri at the latter.
Netting a record 31 goals in his debut campaign, Meazza finished his career as the national team's highest scorer, passed only by Gigi Riva.