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Gabriel Batistuta - International Career

In 1991, Batistuta was also selected to play for Argentina in the Copa America held in Chile, where he was again both champion and top scorer with 6 goals.

It was during that competition that the vice-president of Fiorentina got the chance to see Gabriel's qualities, and signed him right away. Unhappily, Fiorentina were relegated at the end of that season to the Serie B (second division), in spite of Batistuta's 13 goals. After two years, with 16 goals of Batistuta's and under the coaching of Claudio Ranieri, Fiorentina returned to the Serie A.

In 1993 Batistuta played his second Copa America, this time in Ecuador, which Argentina again won. The 1994 World Cup, held in the USA, was a disappointment: after a very promising start Argentina were beaten by Romania in the quarter-final stage, the morale of the team seriously affected by Diego Maradona's drug-abuse suspension.

On his return to Fiorentina Batistuta showed his best football, becoming 1994-1995 top scorer with 26 goals and breaking Ezio Pascutti's 30 year old record by scoring in all of the first 11 matches of the season. In the 1995-1996 season Fiorentina won the Italian Cup and Super Coppa.

During the qualification matches for the 1998 World Cup, with Passarella now coaching the Argentinean team, Batistuta was left out for most of the games. Finally playing at the World Cup finals, he scored 5 goals in that competition, before Argentina lost 2-1 in the quarterfinals against the Netherlands.

After yet another failure to win a championship of importance, Batistuta started considering a transfer to a bigger team. But, partly in an effort to keep Batistuta, Fiorentina hired Giovanni Trapattoni as coach and promised to do everything to gain a scudetto local championship. After an excellent start to the season, Batistuta suffered an injury that kept him off the field for more than a month. Losing momentum and their star striker, Fiorentina lost the lead and finished the season in the third position, which at least gave them the chance to participate in the Champions League.

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