Silvio Piola

Silvio Piola (Italian pronunciation: [ˈsilvjo ˈpjɔːla]; 29 September 1913 – 4 October 1996) was an Italian footballer from Robbio Lomellina, province of Pavia who played as a striker. He is known as a highly prominent figure in the history of Italian football due to several records he set, and he is regarded as one of the greatest strikers of his generation, as well as one of the best Italian players of all time. Piola won the 1938 FIFA World Cup with Italy, scoring two goals in the final, ending the tournament as the second best player and the second highest scorer.[2]

Silvio Piola
Piola in 1940
Personal information
Date of birth (1913-09-29)29 September 1913
Place of birth Robbio, Italy
Date of death 4 October 1996(1996-10-04) (aged 83)
Place of death Gattinara, Italy
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)[1]
Position(s) Striker
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1929–1934 Pro Vercelli 127 (51)
1934–1943 Lazio 227 (143)
1943–1944 Torino 23 (27)
1945–1947 Juventus 57 (26)
1947–1954 Novara 185 (86)
Total 619 (333)
National team
1935–1952 Italy 34 (30)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Piola is third in the all-time goalscoring records of the Italian national team.[3] He is also the highest goalscorer in Italian first league history, with 290 goals (274 in Serie A and 16 in Divisione Nazionale), and also in Serie A history.[4][5] He played 566 Serie A games, putting him fourth on the all-time list for appearances in Italy's top flight. Piola is the only player to have the honour of being the all-time Serie A top scorer of three different teams (Pro Vercelli, Lazio and Novara)[6][7][8] Piola is also the highest scoring Italian player in all competitions, with 364 goals (391 if his goals in the Divisione Nazionale and for the Italy B team are also included).[9]

After his death a pair of Italian stadiums were renamed after him: one in Novara in 1997 and another in Vercelli in 1998. In 2011, he was posthumously inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame.

Club career

Piola began his career with Italian club side Pro Vercelli, making his Serie A debut against Bologna on 16 February 1930, scoring 13 goals in his first year, at the age of 17. On 29 October 1933, Piola scored six goals, the joint-most goals scored in a single match in Serie A, in a 7–2 win over Fiorentina.[10] He went on to score 51 goals in 127 appearances in Serie A for Pro Vercelli.

In 1934, he moved to Lazio, who had been on the receiving end of his first Serie A goal on 11 November 1930. He was to spend the next nine seasons there. Piola was the Serie A top scorer twice while at Lazio, in 1937 and 1943.

After leaving Lazio, he spent war-torn 1944 at Torino, where he scored an amazing 27 goals in just 23 games. Toward the end of the war, he joined Novara. Then, from 1945 to 1947, Piola played for Juventus, before moving back to Novara, where he stayed for seven more seasons. During his final years with Novara, Piola became the oldest player in Serie A history to score two goals in a single league match, a feat which he managed on 1 February 1953, at the age of 39 years, 4 months and 2 days, against his former team Lazio; the record stood until 20 April 2016, when Francesco Totti came off the bench and scored twice to help Roma come from behind to defeat Torino 3–2 at home, at the age of 39 years, 6 months and 23 days.[11][12] To this day, Piola is still currently the highest all-time goalscorer in Serie A.[4]

International career

His first game for Italy came against Austria on 24 March 1935, when he also scored his first goal for the team. He was a World Cup winner in 1938, when he scored two of Italy's goals in the 4–2 victory over Hungary; he finished the tournament as the second highest scorer and was named the second best player, also earning a place in the Team of the Tournament.

Piola went on to play 34 games for Italy and score 30 goals between 1935–1952, a tally that would surely have been greater if not for the interruption caused by World War II. He served as the national side's captain from 1940 until 1947. In 1939 he scored a goal with his hand to England 47 years before Diego Armando Maradona.[13] His last international appearance was in 1952, when Italy drew 1–1 with England. Piola is currently Italy's third highest goalscorer of all-time, behind only Giuseppe Meazza, and Luigi Riva. He also co-holds, with Riva, the national team's record for most goals on opposition soil with 13.[14]


Piola died in Gattinara in 1996, aged 83.

Style of play

Regarded as one of the greatest strikers of all time, Piola was widely renowned for his goalscoring ability throughout his career, and his eye for goal.[15] He was considered to be a modern and well-rounded player during his time, as he used his physical attributes, intelligence, and control to play with his back to goal, and lay off the ball for teammates in order to provide them with assists.[16][15] Piola's vision, work-rate, and technical ability, as well as his passing ability, made him a tactically versatile player,[17] who was capable of playing in several positions, and he was deployed on the wing, in midfield, or as a creative advanced playmaker or second striker on occasion.[16][15] Piola particularly excelled as a centre-forward, however; his speed, positional sense, offensive movement, and opportunism enabled him to lose his markers with his attacking runs and receive his team-mates' deliveries or pounce on loose balls in the area. Piola was also known for his powerful and accurate finishing ability with his head and both feet, from any position on the pitch, which made him a prolific goalscorer throughout his career.[16][15][18][19] Due to his agility and athletic ability, Piola also excelled in the air, and he was capable of scoring spectacular acrobatic goals from volleys and bicycle kicks.[17][15] Despite his talent and his reputation, he was occasionally accused of diving throughout his career. Unlike his legendary international team-mate, club rival, and friend Giuseppe Meazza,[20] however, with whom he was often compared,[21] Piola was much more reserved both on and off the pitch, and he preferred to score through efficiency and pragmatism rather than flamboyance.[17][22] On top of his playing ability and prolific goalscoring, Piola also stood out for his longevity throughout his career.[23]

Career statistics


Club performance League Cup Total
SeasonClubLeague AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals
Italy League Coppa Italia Total
1929–30Pro VercelliSerie A4040
1934–35LazioSerie A29212921
1945–46JuventusSerie A-B29162916
1946–47Serie A28102810
1947–48NovaraSerie B30163016
1948–49Serie A36153615
Total Italy 619333106629339
Career total 619333106629339


Italy national team



S.S. Lazio[24]
Juventus F.C.[24]





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  3. "Nazionale in cifre". Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  4. "Italy - All-Time Topscorers". Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  5. Hafez Ahmed @ (28 September 2012). "Sports | Totti becomes Serie A's third top all-time scorer". Daily Sun. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  6. "Serie A Top Scorers - Lazio". Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  7. "Serie A Top Scorers - Pro Vercelli". Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  8. "Serie A Top Scorers - Novara". Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  9. "Del Piero a quota 301 gol in carriera: nel mirino c'è Inzaghi" (in Italian). Tutto Sport. 15 March 2010. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  10. Lorenzo Proverbio. "PIOLA Silvio: il sesto senso del gol" (in Italian). Storie di Calcio. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  11. Chiara Zucchelli (8 May 2016). "Roma-Chievo, che ovazione per le 600 in A di Totti: ora punta Zanetti a 615" [Roma-Chievo, what an ovation for Totti's 600 appearances in Serie A: now he looks to Zanetti at 615] (in Italian). La Gazzetta dello Sport. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  12. Terry Daley (20 April 2016). "Francesco Totti's late rescue gives Roma miracle win vs. Torino". espnfc. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  13. "Silvio Piola: Maradona's mano de dios 47 years earlier". 16 May 2004. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014.
  14. Clancy, Conor (28 March 2021). "Italy get the job done in Bulgaria". Marca. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
  15. "Silvio Piola: Il Senso del gol" (in Italian). Storie di Calcio. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  16. "Silvio Piola, l'uomo dei Record!" (in Italian). Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  17. "Piola, Italy's small town hero". Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  18. "Il Pallone Racconta: Silvio PIOLA" (in Italian). Il Pallone Racconta. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  19. Stefano Bedeschi (30 September 2013). "Gli eroi in bianconero: Silvio PIOLA" (in Italian). Tutto Juve. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  20. "E' morto Piola, la leggenda del gol" (in Italian). Il Corriere della Sera. 5 October 1996. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  21. "Silvio Piola, l'uomo che è salito sull'Everest del gol" (in Italian). La Repubblica. 8 June 2014. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  22. "Il pallone racconta: MEAZZA E PIOLA ALLA JUVENTUS (parte seconda)" (in Italian). Tutto Juve. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  23. "La carica dei "nonnetti": in campo fino a quarant'anni" (in Italian). 10 August 2010. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  24. "Silvio Piola". (in French). Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  25. Roberto Di Maggio; Igor Kramarsic; Alberto Novello (11 June 2015). "Italy - Serie A Top Scorers". RSSSF. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  26. "Hall of fame, 10 new entry: con Vialli e Mancini anche Facchetti e Ronaldo" [Hall of fame, 10 new entries: with Vialli and Mancini also Facchetti and Ronaldo] (in Italian). La Gazzetta dello Sport. 27 October 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  27. "Inaugurata la Walk of Fame: 100 targhe per celebrare le leggende dello sport italiano" (in Italian). Coni. 7 May 2015. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
  28. "CNA 100 Leggende CONI per data di nascita" (PDF) (in Italian). Coni. Retrieved 23 September 2015.