Those of us who paid attention in high school know the Renaissance began in Italy and spread across the West causing a change in art, music, and thought. Its affects have greatly shaped the modern world. The center of the Renaissance began in Florence or as it is known in Italy: Firenze. Talented people like Leonardo Da Vinci, Botticelli, and Michelangelo (and the other Ninja Turtles) applied their talents and dazzled the public. In the 21st century in Florence there seems to be another renaissance happening, not only is AC Fiorentina back from the depths of Serie C1 but there is also a talent dazzling the public, on the soccer pitch. He is Italian and his name is Alberto Gilardino.
The rebirth of Alberto Gilardino’s career has come with his high price transfer from Milan to Florence. His renaissance story began in 2005, when he arrived at Milan after back to back 23 goal seasons at Parma, he was to form a devastating goal scoring attack with Andriy Shevchenko. They played together for only one year then Sheva was off to Chelsea and his failed experiment to become a top Premiership goal marksmen.
As for “Gila” despite a decent goal scoring rate he got less playing time and became more of a fixture on the bench as Carlo Ancelotti leaned more on Kaka and Pippo Inzaghi to get goals. His playing time and subsequently his goals decreased every year since his arrival at the San Siro and he seemed to have lost his form with Milan losing confidence in him. Last season he played 18 minutes total in the final 2 months of the season. A season that saw Milan out of the Top 4 for the 1st time since 2000-2001 season.
Then 2008, in need of a new outlook and with rumors spreading of Milan acquiring strikers like Didier Drogba, Emmanuel Adebayor, and Samuel Eto’o. Gila met up with an old acquaintance who knew exactly how to use his goal scoring talents. That man was his old coach at Parma and current coach at Fiorentina, Cesare Pirandelli. The reunion with Pirandelli has re-ignited Gilardino’s career and the 15 million euros I Viola spent to get him has been worth it. A true rebirth indeed. In 8 appearances (both Champions League and Serie A) he has 7 goals this season. All last year he had 9 goals.
His timing has been excellent as well, he scored a goal in the 89th minute to get a point from Juventus. He scored twice against Lyon in the Champions League to get a point on the road. He has scored game winners against Bologna & Genoa and sits in a tie for 4th place in the Serie A goal scorers table. He is Fiorentina’s offense scoring 4 of their 6 goals in Serie A and scoring 3 of their 4 Champions League goals.
If Gilardino can continue his goal scoring exploits and Fiorentina make a serious run at the Scudetto and/or the Champions League. Gila could be looking at another Serie A & Italian footballer of the Year award thus hailing a new Renaissance in Florence with Alberto Gilardino leading the way.