Piola is third in the all-time goalscoring records of the Italian national team. He is also the highest goalscorer in Italian first league history, with 290 goals (274 in Serie A and 16 in Divisione Nazionale). He played 566 Serie A games, putting him 4th on the all-time list for appearances in Italy's top flight. Piola is the only player to have the honour of being the all-time Serie A top scorer of three different teams (Pro Vercelli, Lazio and Novara)
Piola began his career with Italian club side Pro Vercelli, making his Serie A debut against Bologna on 16 February 1930, scoring 13 goals in his first year, at the age of 17. He went on to score 51 goals in 127 appearances in Serie A for Pro Vercelli.
In 1934, he moved to Lazio, who had been on the receiving end of his first Serie A goal on 11 November 1930. He was to spend the next nine seasons there. Piola was the Serie A top scorer twice while at Lazio, in 1937 and 1943.
After leaving Lazio, he spent war-torn 1944 at Torino, where he scored an amazing 27 goals in just 23 games. Toward the end of the war, he joined Novara. Then, from 1945 to 1947, Piola played for Juventus, before moving back to Novara, where he stayed for seven more seasons.
His first game for Italy came against Austria on 24 March 1935, when he also scored his first goal for the team. He was a World Cup winner in 1938, when he scored two of Italy's goals in the 4–2 victory over Hungary.
Piola went on to play 34 games for Italy and score 30 goals, a tally that would surely have been greater if not for the interruption caused by World War II. In 1939 he scored a goal with his hand to England 47 years before Diego Armando Maradona . His last international appearance was in 1952, when Italy drew 1–1 with England. He died in Gattinara in 1996, aged 83.