His professional career spanned a quarter of a century, but he was never capped for the Italy national team. He also held the distinction of being the oldest player ever to appear in both the Serie A and the Champions League.
During 15 Serie A seasons, Ballotta appeared in 138 games for six clubs, mainly Lazio.
Born in Casalecchio di Reno, Emilia Romagna, Ballotta emerged through Bologna F.C. 1909's youth system before starting out as a senior with hometown club A.C. Boca San Lazzaro. In the 1984 summer he joined Modena FC, where he remained for the next six years. In January 1991 he transferred to A.C. Cesena, but only stayed for six months before being purchased by Parma A.C. also in Serie A.
Ballotta was in top form during 1992–93, as Parma won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and finished third in the league. However, his momentum did not continue into the next season and he only made three league appearances. He did start both legs in the team'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.
Ballotta signed with Brescia Calcio in 1994, being relegated in his sole season. He then spent the following campaign in Serie B with A.C. Reggiana 1919, achieving promotion at the first attempt. After being immediately relegated, he left for S.S. Lazio for 1997–98, initially as third-choice.
After three seasons with the Biancocelesti, Ballotta enjoyed a brief stint with Inter Milan, who acquired the player for 7 billion lire (as part of Angelo Peruzzi's 40 billion lire move to Lazio). During this timeframe he was also loaned to Modena, helping them gain promotion to the top flight in 2002 and subsequently signing permanently for free.
Ballotta remained at the Stadio Alberto Braglia until the club's relegation at the end of 2003–04, spending the following season with Treviso F.B.C. 1993 in the second tier. Despite a fourth-place finish, they were promoted in place of Genoa C.F.C. after the latter were demoted to Serie C1 following a match-fixing scandal, and he was once again back in the top level after rejoining Lazio as a replacement for Fabrizio Casazza as third goalkeeper.
Ballotta made eight starts during the 2005–06 campaign, as an injury replacement for both 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 the Laziale finished third behind Inter and Roma. They subsequently clinched a berth in the UEFA Champions League.
Ballotta started the first two matches of 2007–08, until the gloves were handed to new acquisition Fernando Muslera for the next five rounds. Following the 1–5 home loss against Milan on 7 October 2007, he regained the starting spot, which he kept until the end of the season. He also started in all 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.Modena
Serie C: 1985–86, 1989–90
Coppa Italia: 1991–92
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1992–93
UEFA Super Cup: 1993
Serie A: 1999–2000
Coppa Italia: 1997–98, 1999–2000
Supercoppa Italiana: 1998
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1998–99
UEFA Super Cup: 1999
Serie A: Oldest player to play in a game, at 44 years and 38 days (for Lazio)
UEFA Champions League: Oldest player to play in a game, at 43 years and 252 days (for Lazio)