Italian football legend Christian Vieri is hoping to come out of retirement at the age of 47 – but to play cricket.

The former Azzurri striker, who spent a large chunk of his childhood in Australia, has also claimed he would have been the “best batsman in the world” and compared his style to West Indies star Chris Gayle.

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Now the 47-year-old, who played for Lazio, Juventus, Inter and AC Milan across a glittering career, says he wants to take to the field for Italy’s fledgling national cricket team.

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“Two months ago before the second coronavirus wave, I spoke to someone from the cricket association, I’m going to start playing in March, April,” he told Stats Perform News.

“It’s a small thing in Italy, in Milan there is a cricket team. I spoke with the Italian cricket captain. They said listen, when you want to play with us, just come.

Italy forward Christian Vieri celebrates scoring in the 2002 World CupSource: AFP

“I said listen, one thing is playing with a tennis ball when you’re 14, one thing is playing with professionals. I want to come three or four days, train with you guys and see how it is.”

Vieri, whose brother Max played for the Socceroos, said Gayle was his favourite player in the modern era and preferred the high-octane thrill of the game’s shorter formats.

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“I think [I play like] Chris Gayle from West Indies. I’m a left-hander,” he said.

“When I used to play, I’m not a Test match guy, I want to smash the ball outside the stadium. I think I would’ve been good.

Christian Vieri in Sydney in 1999Source: News Corp Australia

“I watch all the West Indies’ games – Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd, Joel Garner, all those guys. I would watch Australia but in those days, the Windies were too strong for everyone.

“I’m on YouTube a lot watching cricket.

“My wife always says ‘what are you watching? what is this?’, three hours a day watching games from 1984 and 1986, and she is going ‘what is wrong with you, why aren’t you normal?’

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“I say to her, ‘listen, I grew up there, these are the days I was there following cricket’.

“She takes the p*** out of me. Pakistan had Imran Khan, I know the players. England had Ian Botham. It was fun.

“I think I would’ve been the best batsman in the world if I played cricket. I was an all-rounder. I was really good.”

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