Italy's Greatest Playmakers

No.1 Gianni Rivera

Clubs: Milan.

No.2 Sandro Mazzola

An Inter legend in the 1960s & 70s, Mazzola's technical skills meant he could play in a variety of creative central midfield roles, whilst his pace also saw him occasionally play out wide, as a box to box midfielder, or even as a forward.

A fine passer, Mazzola but he also had a great goalscoring rate, his ability to surge forward with the ball, or time his runs into the box, meant he had a great goalscoring rate for a midfielder, and he even top the Serie A scoring charts in 1965 when he won the Caponcanniere.

At the same time as Mazzola was strutting his stuff at the San Siri for Inter, city rivals Milan had their own playmaking golden boy, Gianni Rivera. Having two renowned playmakers available to the Azzurri led to its own problems, and at the 1970 World Cup, manager Ferruccio Valcareggi ended up adopting a system called "Staffetta" to accommodate both - starting Mazzola in the first half and then replacing him with Rivera in the second half!

Clubs: Inter.

No.3 Francesco Totti

Another playmaker with a fine goal scoring record and great leadership qualities to go with his fine technical abilities. One club men Great passing saw him deployed as an advanced midfield playmaker.

Signature move - back heels, chipped goals

Ultra confident Had a bit of everything- great footwork, confident enough to try outrageous moments of skill. Scored great goals, especially chips, fiery character so wasn't scared to get stuck in and was a great leader for the club What we loved is that he stayed with Roma. Some say he lacked a bit of pace In 1998, aged only 22, Totti became Roma's captain, taking over the armband from Aldair and becoming the youngest Serie A club captain.

Clubs: Roma.

No.4 Roberto Mancini

What made Roberto Mancini a bit different to many other playmakers of wasn't his technical ability or creativity but his leadership. Whilst many numbers 10s were content to let their feet do their talking, Mancini was more than happy to lead his team both from the front and vocally. Having broke into Bologna's first team as a seventeen year old, Mancini would soon be making a move across to Sampdoria, the club he would become synonymous with for fifteen years, until a late swan song with Lazio. His time at Sampdoria would see them rise from Serie A new boys to Scudetto winners, and come agonisingly close to becoming European champions. Mancini's creativity and leadership would be a huge part of this success. On the pitch, he could play as a second striker, a classic number 10, or an attacking midfielder. He forged a brilliant partnership with Gianluca Vialli, a striker more than willing to run all day, and Mancini would find him with a great pass or link up play. Mancini was skilful and would weigh in with his fair number of goals for a support striker, often in important games. Off the pitch, Mancini also had a huge influence, one of the famous seven dwarves of the club, it was often said he was like a son to Samp president Paolo Mantovani and was thought of that highly that he even had an influence on transfers and coach appointments as his time at the club progressed. He would be seen bellowing out instructions on the pitch, or constantly badgering referees, and half-time team talks would often be taken by Mancini rather than a coach. Whilst the late 1980s and 90s would see the emergence of Roberto Baggio, Zola and del Piero. Looked ridiculously cool in that iconic Samp top as well. One look at his video collection of goals will show you how good he was at volleys...

Clubs: Sampdoria, Lazio

No.5 Alessandro Del Piero

A legend for Juventus, having signed for the Turin giants as an 18 year old and then amassing a club record 705 appearances for the club, and scoring 290 goals.

During his 19 years with the Old Lady he would play in a variety of creative positions, often as a support striker, sometimes an attacking midfielder, out wide on the left, or even as an out-and-out striker. Whichever position Del Piero played he was capable of moments of magic. He was a fine dribbler, whilst his combination play, particularly in tight spaces, was extremely good. Whilst his vision and technique would provide many assists for teammates, Del Piero also had a great goal scoring rate, and was renowned for scoring spectacular goals, with a great reputation from set pieces. Really hard working too, chasing down defenders and pressing.

Clubs: Juventus

No.6 Gianfranco Zola

Fantastic little playmaker, and one of those footballers who seemed to be widely loved by many fans across the game, not just those of the clubs he played for. Zola rose to prominence in the early 90s at Napoli, having been purchased from the Sardinian club, Torres. Diego Maradona was obviously the resident number 10 at Napoli at that time, but Zola started to make a name for himself as his understudy with some great cameo performances. Training with Maradona would prove to have a huge effect on Zola, as he built up a friendship with him and analysed his techniques, particularly from dead-ball situations.


No.7 Giancarlo Antognoni

One of the great 1970s and 1980s playmakers, Antognoni became a legend at Fiorentina after La Viola manager Nils Liedholm signed him from AC Asti as an eighteen year old in 1972.

Clubs: Asti, Fiorentina, Lausanne Sports.