There’s a common consensus that Italy’s prestigious Serie A is not quite the league it once was, with the competition’s halcyon days arguably occurring during the late 80s and much of the 1990s.
However, few leagues retain the historic prestige of Serie A, which for generations was considered to be the toughest domestic league in the world (especially for attackers).
It has also produced and featured some of the very best players of all-time, many of which are considered to be genuine greats of the game.
But who makes our top three? Read on to discover our shortlist of Serie A’s greatest ever footballers.
#3. Andrea Pirlo
While the incomparable Pirlo is third on our list, he remains the single greatest midfielder that Italy has ever produced.
Even aside from his incredible vision, range of passing and composure, Pirlo was a player who made the players around him better and was capable of taking average sides to the edge of greatness.
After joining a struggling Juventus side that had finished seventh the previous season in the summer of 2011, for example, the free transfer subsequently led them to an unexpected Serie A title (the team also went through the league campaign unbeaten).
He also led and inspired largely unfancied Italian sides to World Cup glory in 2006 and a European Championship final six years later.
In total, he won the Scudetto six times and the UEFA Champions League twice (both with AC Milan), while also claiming two Supercoppa titles during an illustrious career.
#2. Giuseppe Meazza
The brilliant Giuseppe Meazza was a star for both club and country, scoring 242 goals in just 365 games for Inter (he also played for Milan and Juventus) while winning two consecutive World Cups with Italy (in 1934 and 1938).
Overall, Meazza is the fourth-highest Serie A goalscorer in history, scoring 216 goals in 367 appearances at a rate of 0.59 goals per game. This is also the fifth-best scoring rate in Italy’s top-flight, at least among players who have scored 100 goals or more.
He certainly scored at an incredible rate for Inter during his peak, hitting 33 goals in just 29 games in the 1928/29 season. The following year, he scored 31 goals in 33 outings, and often delivered in big matches despite a penchant for late-night drinking and regularly missing training.
When he retired, Meazza was the highest scoring Serie A player, although he has since been overtaken by Gunnar Nordhal, Francesco Totti and top scorer Silvio Piola.
#1. Paolo Maldini
While you can follow these Linebet registration instructions and bet on almost on any conceivable market in the modern age, you’ll be ill-advised to back anyone to ever overhaul some of Paolo Maldini’s records.
This seemingly timeless great, who remains the archetypal one-club man, played a record 902 matches for Milan between 1985 and 2009, including 647 in Serie A. He made his debut has a 17-year-old in the 1985/86 campaign and subsequently played for a further 24 years, captaining the ‘Rossoneri’ for the last 10 of these.
Maldini also competed in a record eight Champions League finals, while becoming the oldest scorer in these matches in 2005 (against Liverpool, where he also recorded the fastest goal in European history in just 51 seconds).
Incredibly, Maldini only ever averaged one tackle for every two games throughout his career, with this due to his pitch-perfect positioning and incredible levels of anticipation on the field of play.
Despite winning seven Scudetti, five UCL titles, one Coppa Italia and five Supercoppas (along with five UEFA Super Cups and three Club World Championships), Maldini’s finest accomplishment was winning the Serie A title in 1993/94 while contributing to a defence that shipped just 15 goals.
This allowed Milan to lift the title despite only scoring 36 goals in 34 matches, which is a record that’s unlikely to ever be broken.