Alberto Gilardino (born July 5, 1982 in Biella, Italy) is an Italian football (soccer) player, who is a striker for A.C. Milan and the Italian national team.
Gilardino started his career for Piacenza Calcio, playing his first match in Serie A against A.C. Milan. Then he was sold to Hellas Verona, for which he played for two season and scoring only two goals but showing plenty of his talent. His career was launched on the international stage in 2002, after he moved to Parma on explicit request of former Hellas Verona coach Cesare Prandelli. He scored five goals in his first season and then 23 goals the next year, when he ranked as second-placed scorer in Serie A in the 2003-04 season. Gilardino was Voted Best Italian Player and Best Overall Player for the 2004/05 season.
He made an estimated £18m transfer to AC Milan on 17 July 2005, and declared, "Why did I choose Milan? They fascinate me and they are clearly the strongest club in European football, I can't wait to start training." Though he has scored seventeen goals for Milan in Serie A, he failed to find his offensive form in all twelve matches of Milan's 2005-06 UEFA Champions League campaign.
He played for the Italian national football team during the 2004 Olympics in Athens, winning the bronze medal. He also led Italy's Under 21 team to victory in the 2004 European Under-21 Football Championship. He also played for 2002 European U-21 Football Championship Qualifying round against Hungary and playoff for Final Tournament, against Poland home legs. He played for Italian U18 team, reached Intermediary round of 2000 European Under-18 Football Championship. He is considered to be one of the strongest strikers of Italy and a bright hope for the Azzurri future.
Gilardino was a member of the Italian team at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He played in the first two matches, scoring a goal against USA with a brilliant header. He came on as a substitute in the semi-final match versus Germany and provided the pass for Alessandro Del Piero's stoppage time goal that sealed Italy's 2-0 victory. Unfortunately, Gilardino was not used as frequently as he could have been, and instead coach Marcello Lippi played Luca Toni the majority of the time despite his lack of production during games.
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