Ballotta in 2007
|Date of birth||3 April 1964|
|Place of birth||Casalecchio di Reno, Italy|
|Height||1.81 m (5 ft 11 1⁄2 in)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
His senior club career spanned a quarter of a century, but Ballotta was never capped for the Italian national team. He also holds the distinction of being the oldest player ever to appear in both the Serie A and the Champions League (as 43 years and 252 days old).
The first years (1983–94)
Ballotta cut his footballing teeth with Bologna FC's youth side before starting his professional career in 1983 with hometown club A.C. Boca San Lazzaro. He made 22 starts over two seasons before moving to Modena FC, where he remained for the next six years. In January 1991, he transferred to his first Serie A club A.C. Cesena, but only stayed for six months before he was purchased by Parma A.C. from relegated Cesena.
Ballotta was in top form during the 1992–93 campaign, as Parma won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and finished third in the league. However, his momentum did not carry over into the next season and he only made three league appearances. He did start both legs in Parma's 2–1 aggregate win over A.C. Milan in the UEFA Super Cup, but was benched in favor of Luca Bucci for the 1994 Cup Winners' Cup.
Rise to success (1994–2005)
Ballotta signed with Brescia Calcio the following season, which was relegated in his lone stint. He then spent the next campaign in the second division with A.C. Reggiana, with whom he returned to the top level in 1996. However, Reggiana's stay in Italy's top flight was also brief, and he left for S.S. Lazio for the 1997–98 season, initially as the club's third-choice.
After three seasons with the Biancocelesti, Ballotta enjoyed a brief stint with F.C. Internazionale Milano in 2000–01, for 7 billion Italian lire, during which he rejoined Modena on loan during the season to help the club gain promotion to the top flight, eventually signing permanently in 2002 for free, and remaining at the club until its relegation in 2003–04, with Ballotta spending the following campaign with second-divisioner Treviso F.B.C. 1993. Despite their fourth-place finish in the Cadetti race, Treviso were promoted in place of Genoa CFC, after the latter were demoted to the third level following a match-fixing scandal, and he was once again back in the top level rejoining Lazio, replacing Fabrizio Casazza as third goalkeeper.
Winning records and retirement (2005–08)
Ballotta made eight starts during the 2005–06 season, as an injury replacement for both Angelo Peruzzi and Matteo Sereni. On 23 October 2005, he set the record as the oldest player to have played in the first division when he started in Lazio's lineup against A.S. Roma at the age of 41 years and 203 days, beating the previous record set on 7 May 1983, when Dino Zoff played his last game at the age of 41 years and 34 days.
Due to Peruzzi's ongoing injury problems the following season, Ballotta made eleven league appearances as Lazio finished third behind runaway winner Inter and Roma, subsequently clinching a UEFA Champions League berth.
Ballotta started the first two matches of the 2007–08 campaign until the gloves were handed to new acquisition Fernando Muslera for the next five league matches. Following Lazio's embarrassing 1–5 home loss against Milan on 7 October 2007, he regained the starting spot, which he kept until the end of the campaign. He also started all of Lazio's Champions League matches, in which he also became the oldest player ever to play in the competition, during a 1–1 draw with Olympiacos F.C. on 18 September 2007, at the age of 43 years and 168 days, beating the previous record held by another Italian, Alessandro Costacurta, who was 40 years and 211 days in Milan's loss to AEK Athens F.C. on 21 November 2006.
Ballotta retired after his contract with Lazio expired at the end of the season, expressing an interest in continuing his career, before eventually signing a deal as general manager at former club Modena. This experience was however short-lived and, after just 35 days, he decided to stop working at the club.
In late 2008, Ballotta returned to active, with Prima Categoria (eighth level) side Calcara Samoggia, but in another position: forward. This also did not last very long, as he retired for good shortly after.
- Parma outgun brave Antwerp; UEFA.com, 17 August 2001
- European Super Cup 1993/94
- Arsenal frustrate Parma's "double hopes"; UEFA.com, 17 August 2001
- FC Internazionale Milano SpA Report and Accounts on 30 June 2002 (Italian), CCIAA
- Ballotta sets new European record; UEFA.com, 18 September 2007
- Age no barrier for Ballotta; UEFA.com, 26 October 2007
- Ballotta lascia il Modena (Ballotta leaves Modena); Tutto Mercato, 17 September 2008 (Italian)
- Marco Ballotta torna in campo, stavolta da attaccante (Marco Ballotta returns to the pitch, this time as a forward); Calcio Blog (Italian)