“When I was playing football I never enjoyed it that much, I was never happy.”
Gabriel Omar Batistuta may not have cared much for a sport he was clearly born to play but that didn't seem to matter. Because, despite his apathy towards the game, he was really good at it.
Especially scoring goals. Lots of goals. Two-hundred-and-forty-four of the little buggers to be precise. Many of them thunder-bastardos struck so super-sweetly they seemed to defy physics and logic.
There are a handful of other elite professionals who didn't much like football when they played the game - David Batty, Bobby Zamora, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, to name just three. But there are few in this unusual category as naturally gifted, as easy on the eye as Batistuta. The game came easy to the Adonis from Santa Fe.
Newell's Old Boys - 1988-89
Under the tutelage of Marcelo Bielsa, El Ángel Gabriel made his professional bow at Newell's. It was a tough start for the youngster though, who was away from his family living in a room at the stadium.
But Bielsa could see the talent Batistuta possessed, and made certain to nurture and develop the young Argentine. In his autobiography, Batistuta described Bielsa as the most important coach he ever had, and “the one who taught me how to train on rainy days, he taught me everything”.
River Plate - 1989-90
In 1989, Batistuta made the leap to River, a big jump for a young rookie. But it would be a fleeting stay in the red half of Buenos Aires, with just 19 games at El Monumental, his time cut short following a falling out with coach Daniel Passarella.
Boca Juniors - 1990-91
Only a few are brave enough to cross Argentina's great Superclasico divide. In truth, River fans never held it against their former star, given the nature of his departure from the club.
He endured a tough start to his season at La Bombonera but in early 1991 Óscar Tabárez became Boca's new manager and promptly moved the striker into a more central role.
The. Rest. Is. History.
Batistuta finished the season as the league's top scorer as Boca won the championship.
Fiorentina - 1991-2000
It's fair to say he did ok in Florence. Extremely ok. A total of 167 goals in only 269 games was enough to earn Batistuta immortality at La Viola.
There is a constant reminder of his time at the Stadio Artemio Franchi - a (slightly comical) life-size bronze statue of the great man was erected by fans in 1996.
“From the moment I arrived at Fiorentina I wanted a place in the history of the club – and now I can say I have succeeded.”
Roma - 2000-03
Desperate to win the Scudetto and sensing his opportunity to do so was slipping away, Batistuta did the unthinkable and swapped Florence for Rome.
The 36 million Euro fee was the highest paid for a player over 30 - but it was money well spent as his 20 league goals helped seal Roma's first Serie A title since 1983.
Inter - 2003
A brief loan spell at Inter, which saw Batistuta partnered with Christian Vieri, resulted in two goals in 12 games as the legend's career wound down.
Al-Arabi - 2003-05
A move to Fulham looked likely in 2003 but Qatar would be the Argentine's next destination. He ended his first season with a league record 25 goals.
Argentina - 1991-2002
With 54 goals from 77 games, Batistuta was the record goal scorer for Argentina - until it was surpassed by Lionel Messi in 2016.
Batistuta takes a philosophical view: “I'm second to an extra-terrestrial."
He played in three World Cups, scoring 10 goals, making him Argentina's all-time top scorer in the competition, and the joint eighth-highest World Cup goalscorer of all time.
Not bad for a lad who wasn't fussed by football in the first place.