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Thursday May 7 2020
Greatest Fiorentina XI

Lifelong Fiorentina supporter Giancarlo Rinaldi picks his perfect line-up from the history of the Viola at the Stadio Franchi. Do you agree with his choices?

They are the kind of compilations no pundit savours in the age of social media. Once upon a time you could put together an all-time greats XI and inflict it on the public with little or no comeback other than perhaps the odd irate letter to the editor. Nowadays, the backlash comes immediately and in greater volume than an Iron Maiden concert.

However, I will go undaunted into battle once again with my shields of candour and honesty firmly in position. This is a personal best Fiorentina side and there will be plenty of major omissions – particularly from times gone by when even I was not around to see them play. However, it’s a team I reckon shows just how lucky Viola followers have been down the years.

GK: Francesco Toldo

The old timers would tell you Enrico Albertosi or Giuliano Sarti, but those of a fresher vintage could not look past the portiere from Padua. His finest hour was probably with La Nazionale when he held off Holland at Euro 2000, but his time in Viola was pretty special too. A couple of Coppa Italias, an Italian Super Cup and his Champions League exploits made him a hero to more modern-day fans.

RB: Angelo Di Livio

Pure sentiment is at play here as Il Soldatino was not the most skilful, talented or spectacular. But he stayed at Fiorentina when they were relegated to Serie C2 and reinvented as Florentia Viola despite having an international career with Italy behind him. That loyalty and his positional versatility see him scoop a spot despite – whisper it – having once been a Juventino.

CB: Daniel Passarella

They love an Argentinian in Florence and one of the first to arrive after the foreigner ban was lifted in 1980 would also prove to be one of the best. El Gran Capitan was a natural leader of an uncompromising defence that kept the Tuscan outfit near the top end of the table in the mid-1980s. He chipped in more than his fair share of goals, too, before moving to Inter late in his career.

CB: Giuseppe Brizi

Probably the least well-known of this side, he played nearly 400 games for the Florentines after switching from midfield to a sweeper’s role. His crowning glory was being part of the club’s second Serie A triumph in 1969. History paints him as a quiet leader, renowned for his fair play.

LB: Sergio Cervato

A nod to the first Scudetto the club ever won in 1956, another defender with an eye for goal. Those who saw him play describe him as a model of concentration, rarely smiling, but with more footballing ability than most in his role at the time. Thumping free-kicks were a speciality and he would go on to win the title with Juve later in his career when he moved to a more central role.

CM: Giancarlo De Sisti

Another deliverer of the late 1960s league title, he was certainly a bigger name than Brizi and flourished over nine years in Florence sandwiched between two spells with his native Roma. A slick-passing playmaker, Picchio was famed for his vision of play and the balance he could give a side. He would also help to deliver Italy’s only ever European Nations title in 1968.

CM: Giancarlo Antognoni

Surely the least contentious inclusion is Mr Fiorentina, who is still revered in the Stadio Artemio Franchi decades after he last kicked a ball. An elegant, pinpoint passer with an eye for goal, he was described as playing ‘while looking at the stars’, such was his poise. His loyalty to the club probably cost him countless honours, but it won the hearts of Viola fans to this day.

CM: Manuel Rui Costa

Some will argue this midfield is too light and graceful to truly be competitive, but who cares? The Portuguese playmaker was worth the admission fee alone during his seven-year spell in purple. His balance and vision were second to none and all delivered in a languid style that disguised the pace at which he cruised past opponents. He moved to Milan, but Florence stayed in his heart.

FW: Kurt Hamrin

The Swedish winger was let go by Juventus, who preferred John Charles and Omar Sivori, but their abundance of choice would be to the Viola’s advantage. ‘The Little Bird’ would go on to become one of Fiorentina’s all-time top scorers and help them win the Cup Winners’ Cup against Rangers in 1961. A natural dribbler with a sense of mischief and a poacher’s eye for goal.

FW: Gabriel Batistuta

Another no-brainer, as the Lion King remains an idol of the Curva Fiesole. Few forwards have ever battered down the defences of Serie A with greater gusto than the amazing Argentinian. Incredibly, he arrived as the less-fancied half of a double deal with Diego Latorre. He would go on to write his name into legend and become one of Fiorentina’s greatest ever servants.

FW: Roberto Baggio

The Divine Ponytail may have travelled far and wide, but he left a little piece of his heart on the banks of the River Arno. The club bought him from Vicenza and nursed him through serious injury before seeing him flourish with some iconic goals – most notably a long-range dribble-fest against Napoli. A transfer to Juve was a dagger to the heart, but he was still one of the most exquisite talents the Viola have ever seen.

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Have your say...
Zambrotta84: "Baggio never had a good season anymore with a top club after he was 27. Says it all, doesn't it"

Er, did you actually follow his career?

Ac Milan - player of the year in 95/96, top assists in Serie A & winning the title

Bologna - 22 goals, 9 assists (his best in Serie A) - earning nominations for FIFA World Player, Ballon D'or, Serie A player of the year etc.

Brescia - 10 goals & 10 assists in 00/01, another Ballon D'or nomination & winner of Guerin d'oro

I could go on...
on the 11th June, 2020 at 2:44pm
So one great world cup makes him an all-time great? I wonder what germans must be saying about Podolski then.

Del Piero got a standing ovation at Bernabeu when he was 34 after single-handedly destroying them.

Baggio never had a good season anymore with a top club after he was 27. Says it all, doesn't it.

If he'd been as good as people delude themselves off, Juve would've never sold him. Sure he had class, but too inconsistent and mentally weak to be world class.
on the 10th May, 2020 at 10:11pm
@ Me,
I didn't want to post, but seeing your reply I will add...

ClapClapClap, --Bravo!!!

The most talented Italian player I ever saw in my life were Baggio & Totti.
(Don't know Mazzola, Meazza...)

These last years, Pirlo is getting undeserved publicity.
It's like people are trying to falsify history, elevating him to one of the top 50 players that ever lived!

I LOVE Andrea, he was incredible.
Same with Del Piero, who was exceptional...
But they're not on Totti/ Baggio talent level. Fact.
on the 10th May, 2020 at 4:43pm
Antognini is on the list..you guys gotta pay more attention.

Also, not bar Pirlo. I love Pirlo but he isn't as good as Baggio. Baggio is in the Maldini/Totti/Rivera/Mazzola/Meazza/Baresi grouping. I don't know if you can add Pirlo to that.
on the 9th May, 2020 at 3:03pm
Zambrotta84;

Sorry buddy, football ain't your thing. You don't get to have just any opinion.

I never liked Baggio, but that's a Brazilian growing up. If you don't see what he did to drag that team to the Finals, then you should watch another sport.

You honestly sound like those United fans who claim to not care about football outside of United. Unfortunately, I see enough of you.

Not world-class, lol.
on the 9th May, 2020 at 3:01pm
Del Piero won the World Cup and Champions League and countless Serie A's. Baggio choked the only time he could've won a major international honor. Of course he was good, but he wasn't world-class.
on the 8th May, 2020 at 10:25pm
Where’s Antognoni? Has to be a mistake surely??
on the 8th May, 2020 at 9:28pm
lol baggio overrated that is a joke he was probably the best Italian player par pirlo within the last 30 years.

dragging poor del piero into as well for the record i am a milan fan but i have always thought del piero was a class act but compare him to baggio come on. The season baggio left he scored more goals than del peiro despite playing almost a thousand less minutes. Their goal scoring form for italy is the same expect baggio scored the same amount of goals in 30 less games.
on the 8th May, 2020 at 9:05pm
Personally I'd love to see Dunga...he didn't have the years there that the current 3 did, but Dunga is probably one of the five best defensive midfielders ever. A playmaker and a leader, an anchor and just a legend.

Could argue for the other goalkeepers, or maybe someone in the back. But terrific list.
on the 8th May, 2020 at 5:37pm
Spoken like a true ignorant juventude. Baggio is and always will be a class above Del Piero
on the 8th May, 2020 at 2:42pm
Baggio IS on the list. He's overrated, though. Was never a world-class player again after leaving Juventus. Only had a few good seasons before being benched in favor of a very young Del Piero.
on the 8th May, 2020 at 9:25am
damn none of the relatively more recent players included no pasqual, no valero, no gonzarlo, no ujfalusi, no mutu, no gilardino, no luca toni.

to top it off leaving out dunga and the almighty roberto baggio.
on the 7th May, 2020 at 9:41pm
Roberto BAGGIO has to be on this list.

I am of the opinion, Il Divino Codino played his best whist at Juve, however he was still scintillating whilst at the Viola.

The quintessential trequartista. The MOST skilful of any generation. Second only to Maradona in my list of all time greatest of all time!
on the 7th May, 2020 at 3:54pm
Toldo = great. But this is an "all-time greatest" list, isn't it, and not a "modern day greatest" list? I like Toldo very much, but if we are going to acknowledge his (losing) effort at Euro 2000, what about Albertosi in the World Cup 1970? Enrico Albertosi should top this list.
on the 7th May, 2020 at 3:23pm
What, still no Almirón? This is getting ridiculous...
on the 7th May, 2020 at 11:11am
Even without the goals and amazing play, Baggio deserves to be on this list just for refusing to take that penalty, and then picking up the Viola scarf. What a player he was.
on the 7th May, 2020 at 2:26am

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