Serie A is the Italian top-flight football league, and is one of the best elite divisions in Europe, boasting some of the best players on the planet. Some legends and heroes of the round-leather game have also graced the league, and it continues to attract top players.

Serie A was founded in 1898 and consists of 20 teams that play a double round-robin tournament every season, with the three lowest-placed teams at the end of each season getting relegated to Serie B.

The San Siro is one of the most famous football stadiums in the world

They are replaced by the top two teams in Serie B, while the 3rd-placed team also get an automatic promotion if they are 10 or more points ahead of the 4th-placed team, else there is a playoff tournament that determines the third ascending team.

Serie A teams compete for the league title, the Coppa Italia (Italian Cup) and the Supercoppa Italiana (Italian Super Cup) domestically, challenging other European clubs for the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League – depending on where they finished the preceding campaign and the honours they won.

The winner is awarded the Scudetto (little shield – a decoration) and the Coppa Campioni d’Italia trophy.

List of the best Serie A players of all time

Most of the best players that have plied their trades in the Serie A have won one or more Scudetto, and we’ve compiled a list of the best Serie A players of all time below – let us know if we’ve missed anyone!

Alessandro Del Piero

One of the best players in the world at the time, Del Piero was the poster boy for Serie A during his time at Juve. He had to be included in our list of the best Serie A players.

  • Serie A appearances: 478
  • Serie A goals: 188
  • Trophies: 15
  • Year: 1993 – 2006, 2007 – 2012

The former Italian forward was prolific in front of goal as they come, also weighing in with 110 assists during his 18 seasons as a Serie A player for Juventus.

Del Piero won six Scudettos, four Supercoppa Italianas, one Coppa Italia, one UEFA Champions League and one UEFA Super Cup with the Old Lady and was included in Juventus Greatest XI of All Time in 2017.

He made 91 appearances for Italy, scoring 27 times and winning the 2006 World Cup with them.

Del Piero will go down in history as one of Juventus’ and Serie A’s best strikers.

Alessandro Nesta

  • Serie A appearances: 417
  • Serie A goals: Eight
  • Trophies: 16
  • Year: 1993 – 2012

The former centre-back played 193 games for Lazio before leaving for AC Milan where he featured in  224 Serie A fixtures, scoring seven times.

Nesta won one Serie A title, one Supercoppa Italiana, one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, one UEFA Super Cup and two Coppa Italias with Lazio. He won two more titles, one Coppa Italia, two Supercoppa Italianas, two UEFA Champions Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups and one FIFA Club World Cup with Milan.

Nesta was named in the Serie A Team of the Year once, made the FIFPro World XI twice, emerged as Serie A Defender of the Year four times and was inducted into AC Milan Hall of Fame.

The Italian Football Hall of Famer played 78 games for his country, winning the 2006 World Cup and is regarded as one of the best central defenders the game has ever seen.

Andrea Pirlo

Another legend of Serie A – we couldn’t possibly put this list together without including Pirlo.

  • Serie A appearances: 493
  • Serie A goals: 58
  • Trophies: 16
  • Year: 1994 – 1995, 1997 – 2015

The former Italy international is widely seen as one of the best deep-lying playmakers the game has ever seen, starting his career at Brescia where he made 40 top-flight appearances and scored four goals.

Pirlo spent a season on loan at Reggina, scoring six goals in 28 games before moving to Inter Milan where he played 22 league games across two seasons.

He joined AC Milan afterwards, spending 10 seasons with them, scoring 32 goals in 284 games before a switch to Juventus, where he scored 16 times in 119 games. Pirlo ended his Serie A career with 95 assists, winning two titles and two UEFA Champions Leagues with Milan.

He won four more titles at Juventus, making the FIFPro World XI once. The AC Milan Hall of Famer won the Serie A Footballer of the Year thrice, made the Serie A Team of the Year four times and was named in Juventus Greatest XI of All Time in 2017.

Pirlo won the 2006 World Cup with Italy, with 13 goals in 116 games to his name.

Antonio Di Natale

  • Serie A appearances: 445
  • Serie A goals: 209
  • Trophies: 0
  • Year: 2002 – 2016

The former Italian forward played for Empoli and Udinese in the Serie A, scoring 18 goals in 60 games for the former and 191 goals in 385 games for the latter.

Di Natale was named the Serie A Italian Footballer of the Year once and made the Serie A Team of the Year three times, scoring 11 goals in 42 international games. Despite ending his Serie A career with no silverware, he is widely regarded as one of the best finishers in the history of the Italian top-flight.

Cafu

  • Serie A appearances: 282
  • Serie A goals: Nine
  • Trophies: Seven
  • Year: 1997 – 2008

The former Brazilian right-back moved to Serie A ahead of the 1997-98 season, joining AS Roma. Cafu scored five goals and assisted 20 others in 163 games for the capital club, winning the 2000-01 Serie A title. He joined AC Milan after six seasons, bagging four goals and 12 assists in 119 games, winning one more title, two UEFA Super Cups and one UEFA Champions League.

Individually, Cafu made the 2005 FIFPro World XI and has since been inducted into both clubs’ Hall of Fame.

The Brazilian won the 1994 and 2002 FIFA World Cups, 1997 and 1999 Copa Américas and the 1997 FIFA Confederations Cup, earning 142 caps and scoring five times for the South American football powerhouse.

Christian Vieri

  • Serie A appearances: 264
  • Serie A goals: 142
  • Trophies: Seven
  • Year: 1991 – 1992, 1995 – 1997, 1998 – 2009

The former Italian striker is a journeyman, featuring for Torino (one goal in seven games), Atalanta (11 goals in 35 games), Juventus (eight goals in 23 games), Lazio (12 goals in 22 games), Inter Milan (103 goals in 143 games), AC Milan (one goal in eight games) and Fiorentina (six goals in 26 games) in Italy, having spells in other leagues.

Vieri won one Coppa Italia with Torino and Inter, one Serie A title with Juve and one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup with Lazio.

He was Serie A Top Scorer and Serie A Footballer of the Year once, scoring 23 goals in 49 games for the country.

Diego Maradona

Arguably the greatest of all time – Maradona had to be included in the list of the best Serie A players of all time.

  • Serie A appearances: 187
  • Serie A goals: 81
  • Trophies: Five
  • Year: 1984 – 1991

The late Argentine attacker is one of the greatest players in the history of the game and he made his mark in the Italian top-flight with Napoli. Maradona spent seven seasons at the club,  scoring 81 goals and making 44 assists, winning two Scudettos, one Coppa Italia, one Supercoppa Italiana and one UEFA Cup at Naples.

The Italian Football Hall of Famer and two-time Ballon d’Or winner had his Number 10 Jersey retired by Napoli as a recognition of his contribution to the club.

Diego won the 1986 FIFA World Cup, with 34 goals in 91 games for his country.

Fabio Cannavaro

  • Serie A appearances: 421
  • Serie A goals: 14
  • Trophies: Four
  • Year: 1992 – 2006, 2009 – 2010

The former Italian centre-back played for Napoli (58 games), Parma (212 games), Inter Milan (50 games) and Juventus twice (101 games) in Italy.

Cannavaro won two Coppa Italias, one UEFA Cup and one Supercoppa Italiana with Parma, winning the Serie A Footballer of the Year once and the Serie A Defender of the Year twice.

The 2006 Ballon d’Or winner and FIFA World Player of the Year made the FIFPro World XI twice, winning the 2006 World Cup with the Azzurri and ending his international career with two goals in 136 games.

Francesco Totti

  • Serie A appearances: 619
  • Serie A goals: 250
  • Trophies: Five
  • Year: 1992 – 2017

The former Italian forward played only for Roma all his career, assisting 152 times. Totti won one Serie A title, two Coppa Italias and two Supercoppa Italianas, and was named the Serie A Footballer of the Year twice, winning one European Golden Shoe.

He also was part of the World Cup-winning side, ending his international career with nine goals in 58 games.

Franco Baresi

  • Serie A appearances: 470
  • Serie A goals: 12
  • Trophies: 18
  • Year: 1977 – 1997

The former Italian centre-back spent all his 20 years as a professional footballer with AC Milan, with 18 of those coming in the Italian top-flight. Baresi scored 12 goals and made 12 assists, winning six Serie A titles, three European Cups/UEFA Champions League and three European Super Cups.

The AC Milan Hall of Famer and AC Milan Player of the Century in 1999 won the 1982 FIFA World Cup with his country, with a goal under his belt in 81 caps.

Baresi was popular for his no-nonsense style of defending.

Gianluigi Buffon

  • Serie A appearances: 657
  • Serie A goals: 0
  • Trophies: 24
  • Year: 1995 – 2006, 2007 – 2018, 2019 – 2021

The legendary goalkeeper, 44 (1978), has made most Serie A appearances in history, with 168 of those coming at Parma, with whom he won one Coppa Italia, one Supercoppa Italiana and one UEFA Cup.

Buffon joined Juventus, sticking with them despite relegation to Serie B following the Calciopoli scandal and returning for one more stint after a season away with Paris Saint-Germain. Excluding the revoked Serie A titles of 2004-05 and 2005-06, he won 10 Scudettos, five Coppa Italias and six Supercoppa Italianas with the Old Lady.

Buffon won Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year 13 times, made the Serie A Team of the Year five times, was named Serie A Footballer of the Year once and was included in Juventus Greatest XI of All Time in 2017.

The 2006 World Cup winner also has the most appearances (176) for the Italy senior team.

Giuseppe Meazza

  • Serie A appearances: 367
  • Serie A goals: 216
  • Trophies: Four
  • Year: 1929 – 1943, 1946 – 1947

The late Italian forward made 303 Serie A appearances for Inter, scoring 197 times, with nine goals coming in 37 games for Milan and 10 goals in 27 games for Juve. Meazza won all his three Serie A titles and one Coppa Italia with the Nerazzurri, emerging as the Serie A top goalscorer thrice.

The Inter Milan Hall of Famer was inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame posthumously in 2011 and the San Siro Stadium has since been named after him due to his heroics for both Milan-based sides.

Meazza scored 33 goals in 53 games for the national team, winning the 1934 and 1938 World Cups.

Giorgio Chiellini

  • Serie A appearances: 430
  • Serie A goals: 27
  • Trophies: 19
  • Year: 2004 – 2006, 2007 – 2022

The 38-year-old (1984) centre-back started life in Serie A on loan with Fiorentina, playing 37 games before joining Juventus.

Chiellini played 393 games for the Old Lady, scoring 24 times and assisting 20 others. He won nine Scudettos, five Coppa Italias and five Supercoppa Italianas with Juve, making the Serie A Team of the Year on five occasions and winning the Serie A Defender of the Year thrice.

The member of Juventus Greatest XI of All Time won Euros 2020 for his country, scoring eight times in 117 games before retiring from international football.

Javier Zanetti

  • Serie A appearances: 615
  • Serie A goals: 12
  • Trophies: 16
  • Year: 1995 – 2014


The former Argentine defensive player spent 19 seasons at the San Siro, helping Inter to five Serie A titles, four Coppa Italias, four Supercoppa Italianas, one UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Cup and one FIFA Club World Cup.

Zanetti got inducted into the club’s and Italian Football Hall of Fame in 2018 and has had his number 4 shirt retired by Inter Milan as a recognition of his career at the club.

He played 145 games for his country, scoring five times.

Kaka

  • Serie A appearances: 223
  • Serie A goals: 77
  • Trophies: Five
  • Year: 2003 – 2009, 2013 – 2014


The former Brazilian attacker played 193 Serie A games in his first stint at Milan, scoring 70 goals.

He returned for one more campaign after struggling at Real Madrid, scoring seven goals in 30 and assisting 77 times over both stints. The 2007 Ballon d’Or winner and FIFA World Player of the Year won one Supercoppa Italiana, Serie A title, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup at Milan, making the FIFPro World XI thrice and winning Serie A Footballer of the Year twice.

Kaka was inducted into the AC Milan Hall of Fame in 2010. He won the World Cup in 2002 and the 2005 and 2009 FIFA Confederations Cups with Brazil, scoring 29 goals in 92 games.

Marco Van Basten

  • Serie A appearances: 147
  • Serie A goals: 90
  • Trophies: 11
  • Year: 1987 – 1995

The former Dutch forward spent just six seasons with AC Milan, with an injury that forced him out of action for two years forcing him to retire aged 28.

However, van Basten still went on to make a huge mark, assisting 31 times and helping the club to three Scudettos, two Supercoppa Italianas, two European Cups, two European Supercups and two Intercontinental Cups. He also won his three Ballon d’Ors in the club colours, winning two Serie A Golden Boots and one European Golden Boot.

Van Basten has since been inducted into the club’s and Italian Football Hall of Fame.

He led the Netherlands to glory at the 1988 UEFA European Championship, with 24 goals in 58 caps to his name.

Michel Platini

  • Serie A appearances: 146
  • Serie A goals: 68
  • Trophies: Seven
  • Year: 1982 – 1987

The former French midfielder spent five seasons in the Serie A with Juventus, weighing in with 12 assists and winning two Scudettos, one Coppa Italia, one European Cup, one European Cup Winners’ Cup, one European Super Cup and one Intercontinental Cup.

Platini picked up all his three Ballon d’Ors while at the club, making it to the Italian Football Hall of Fame and Juventus Greatest XI of All Time as a result. He won the 1984 UEFA European Championship with France, ending his international career with 41 goals in 72 games.

Pavel Nedved

  • Serie A appearances: 352
  • Serie A goals: 73
  • Trophies: 11
  • Year: 1996 – 2006, 2007 – 2009


The former Czechoslovakia international midfielder scored 33 goals and made 12 assists in 138 games for Lazio before moving to Juve after five seasons. He won one Serie A title, two Coppa Italias, two Supercoppa Italianas, one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and one UEFA Super Cup while at Lazio.

Nedved scored 40 goals and assisted 59 others in 214 Serie A games at Turin, winning two league titles and two Supercoppa Italianas.

The 2003 Ballon d’Or winner was named Serie A Footballer of the Year the same year, making it into the Juventus Greatest XI of All Time.

Nedved played 91 times for the Czech Republic, scoring 18 times.

Paolo Maldini

Maldini for me is the greatest Serie A player of all time – he was such a class defender, and won pretty much every trophy going during his time at AC Milan.

  • Serie A appearances: 647
  • Serie A goals: 29
  • Trophies: 26
  • Year: 1985 – 2009

The former Italian left-back spent his whole professional career playing for Milan, assisting 28 goals in the Serie A and winning seven league titles.

Maldini won five Supercoppa Italianas, five European Cups/UEFA Champions League and five European/UEFA Super Cups, winning the Serie A Defender of the Year once and making the 2005 FIFA FIFPro World XI.

The club’s and Italian Football Hall of Famer holds the record for most Serie A appearances for a Milan player, most seasons (25) played in Serie A and many more records.

Unfortunately, Maldini’s 126 national caps and seven goals could not win him any international silverware.

Paolo Rossi

  • Serie A appearances: 214
  • Serie A goals: 82
  • Trophies: Six
  • Year: 1975 – 1976, 1977 – 1987

The late Italian striker made his Italian top-flight debut with Como 1907 (six games) before joining Lanerossi Vicenza, where he scored 39 goals in 58 games. Rossi moved to AC Perugia Calcio afterwards, leaving for Juventus after 13 goals in 28 games.

He bagged 24 goals in 83 games in Turin, moving on to Milan (two goals in 20 games) before ending his career with four goals in 20 games at Hellas Verona. Rossi ended his Serie A career with 10 assists, winning two Scudettos, a Coppa Italia, one European Cup, one European Cup Winners’ Cup and one UEFA Super Cup with Juventus. The 1982 Ballon D’Or winner emerged as Serie A top scorer once and was inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame in 2016. Rossi ended his international career with 20 goals in 48 games, winning the 1982 World Cup.

Roberto Baggio

  • Serie A appearances: 452
  • Serie A goals: 205
  • Trophies: Four
  • Year: 1986 – 2004


The former Italian striker started his Serie A journey with Fiorentina, leaving for Juventus after 39 goals in 94 games.

Baggio scored 78 times in 141 appearances, winning one league title, one Coppa Italia and one UEFA Cup at Turin before joining AC Milan, where he produced 12 goals in 51 games that yielded the 1995-96 league title.

A one-season spell at Bologna afterwards ended with 22 goals in 30 games, and he joined Inter Milan, leaving for Brescia after nine goals in 41 games. Baggio ended his Serie A career with 45 goals in 95 games. He won the 1993 Ballon d’Or and has been inducted into AC Milan’s and the Italian Football Hall of Fame.

Baggio scored 27 goals in 56 international games.

Ruud Gullit

  • Serie A appearances: 178
  • Serie A goals: 62
  • Trophies: 10
  • Year: 1987 – 1995

The former Dutch player – who played in defence, midfield and attack – scored 39 goals in 125 games for Milan in seven terms before joining Sampdoria, where he notched 24 goals in 53 games, winning the Coppa Italia.

The 1987 Ballon d’Or winner won three Serie A titles, two Supercoppa Italianas, two European Cups, one UEFA Super Cup and one Intercontinental Cup in Milan.

Gullit has been inducted into the AC Milan Hall of Fame and Italian Football Hall of Fame. He featured in 66 games for the Netherlands, scoring 17 times and helping them win the 1988 UEFA European Championship.

Ronaldo

The original and best, Ronaldo’s career was blighted with injuries, but he was still the most feared striker on the planet.

  • Serie A appearances: 88
  • Serie A goals: 58
  • Trophies: One
  • Year: 1997 – 2002, 2007 – 2008

The Brazilian scored 49 goals in 68 games for Inter, returning to play for Milan and leaving after nine goals in 20 games.

Ronaldo won the 1997-98 UEFA Cup with Inter.

The two-time Ballon d’Or winner was named Serie A Footballer of the Year and Serie A Foreign Footballer of the Year in 1998, and has been inducted into the Inter Milan Hall of Fame and Italian Football Hall of Fame.

He won two World Cups, two Copa Américas and one FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil, bagging 62 goals in 98 games.

Zinedine Zidane

  • Serie A appearances: 151
  • Serie A goals: 24
  • Trophies: Six
  • Year: 1996 – 2001

The former French midfielder spent all his five Serie A seasons at Juventus, assisting 27 times. Zidane helped Juve win two top-flight titles, a Supercoppa Italiana, one UEFA Super Cup, one Intercontinental Cup and the UEFA Intertoto Cup. He was named Serie A Foreign Footballer of the Year twice, winning the Ballon d’Or while there.

The three-time FIFA World Player of the Year was named Serie A Footballer of the Year once, making the FIFA FIFPro World XI twice and has been named in Juventus Greatest XI of All Time.

Zidane’s two honours for his country came while he was at Juve, helping France to the 1998 World Cup and 2000 UEFA European Championship before retiring after 31 goals in 108 games.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

  • Serie A appearances: 279
  • Serie A goals: 155
  • Trophies: Eight
  • Year: 2004 – 2009, 2010 – 2012, 2020 – present day

The divisive Swede striker, started his Serie A career with Juventus, scoring 23 times in 70 games before moving on to Inter Milan, where he scored 57 times in 88 games.

Ibrahimovic joined AC Milan after a season at Barcelona, scoring 42 times in 61 games. He left for Paris Saint-Germain, moving to Manchester United and LA Galaxy afterwards before returning to Milan in December 2019, and has since bagged 33 goals in 60 games. He won two Serie A titles at Turin, but both were revoked due to the Calciopoli scandal. At Inter, Zlatan won three titles and two Supercoppa Italianas.

He has won two league titles and one Supercoppa Italiana so far in Milan.

Individually, he has been named Serie A Footballer of the Year thrice, Serie A Foreign Footballer of the Year five times, making the Serie A Team of the Year twice and has since been inducted into the AC Milan Hall of Fame.

Ibrahimovic scored 62 goals in 121 games for Sweden.

Honourable Mentions

Other players who could have made the list of the best Serie A players of all time include:

  • Adriano
  • Alberto Gilardino
  • Ciro Immobile
  • Cristiano Ronaldo
  • Dino Zoff
  • Giacinto Facchetti
  • Giuseppe Bergomi
  • Gunnar Nordahl
  • John Charles
  • Lilian Thuram
  • Luigi Riva
  • Marco Tardelli
  • Obafemi Martins
  • Roberto Donadoni
  • Silvio Piola
  • Valentino Mazzola