To celebrate Gabriel Batistuta’s 49th birthday, Football Italia picks out the best five strikes of his career.
vs Udinese - August 31, 1997
A scissor kick from outside the box would be pretty special under any circumstances, but Batigol’s effort in August 1997 was truly exceptional.
Not only did the Argentinian grab his hat-trick, the goal was a 93rd-minute winner in the first game of the season.
vs Colombia - October 15, 1999
It may have been a friendly, but this one stands out as one of the greatest goals of Batistuta’s 325 professional strikes.
Having dribbled almost the entire length of the pitch, the striker kept a cool head to dink the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper.
vs Arsenal - October 27, 1999
The grandest stages deserve the greatest goals, and Batistuta hit one of the best goals ever seen at the old Wembley Stadium.
With 75 minutes played, Patrick Vieira was tackled in midfield by Aldo Firicano. Jorg Heinrich burst forward before finding Batigol on the right of the Arsenal penalty box.
The striker surged down the line, surely narrowing his angle too much, before unleashing a ferocious strike.
Replays show the ball didn’t actually leave a trail of fire in its wake, but it was past Gunners goalkeeper David Seaman before he knew it.
vs Manchester United - March 15, 2000
Another trademark Batistuta strike came against Manchester United in March 2000.
The Red Devils defence foolishly allowed him to cut inside on his right foot, just outside of the box.
What followed was an inevitable howitzer which just about ripped the Old Trafford net from its moorings.
vs Verona - November 19, 2000
Serie A is known for free-kicks, with the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Michel Platini, Alessandro Del Piero and Sinisa Mihajlovic capable of curling beautiful strikes into the top corner.
Batistuta’s technique may have been less artful, but it was no less effective.
Bati would simply smash the ball toward the goal, and woe betide anyone who stood in the way. If this strike against Verona had hit the wall, it would probably have killed a man.