Gianni Rivera

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Gianni Rivera
Rivera Gianni 02.jpg
Personal information
Full name Giovanni Rivera
Date of birth (1943-08-18) 18 August 1943 (age 70)
Place of birth Alessandria, Italy
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Playing position Midfielder
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1959–1960 Alessandria 26 (6)
1960–1979 Milan 501 (122)
Total 527 (128)
National team
1962–1975 Italy[1] 63 (15)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Giovanni "Gianni" Rivera (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒanni riˈvɛra]; born 18 August 1943 in Alessandria) is an Italian former football midfielder, mostly as an offensive playmaker, who was awarded the Ballon d'Or, one of the most prestigious individual awards in football, in 1969. Dubbed Italy's "Golden Boy" by the media, he played the majority of his career with Serie A side A.C. Milan where he enjoyed a highly successful career in domestic and European football. Internationally, he represented Italy, 63 times scoring 15 goals, at four World Cups (1962, 1966, 1970, and 1974) as well as being part of the first Italian side to win the European Football Championship in 1968.

An elegant and efficient playmaker, Rivera was renowned for his dribbling skills, vision, technique, and, above all, his sublime passing. He is considered one of the greatest Italian footballers of all time.

After retiring from football, Rivera has gone into politics and currently is a Member of the European Parliament for the Uniti nell'Ulivo party. He has been appointed as the President of the educational youth sector by the FIGC for the Italy national football team, along with Roberto Baggio and Arrigo Sacchi under head coach Cesare Prandelli.[2]

Club career[edit]

Nicknamed the Golden Boy of Italian football, Rivera was the product of Alessandria's youth football academy and made his debut in Serie A for Alessandria against Internazionale on 2 June 1959 at the age of only fifteen years. He played 26 matches for his first club, for which he scored 6 goals. A year later, he was bought by AC Milan to replace Juan Schiaffino with a record transfer fee for that time, $200,000. In 1962 he won the first scudetto with AC Milan and on 13 May 1962, aged just eighteen, he played his first match for the Italian national team against West Germany at the World Cup in Chile, a game that finished with a goalless draw.

Due to their win of the 1962 scudetto, AC Milan qualified for the European Cup in 1962, a European Cup which they finally won, beating Benfica 2–1 in the final with Rivera in great form as he was awarded second place in the famous Ballon d'Or award, which was won by the Russian goalkeeper Lev Yashin.

In the 1967/1968 season, Rivera won both the title and the Cup Winners' Cup with AC Milan. In 1968, he played for Italy as they won the European Championship. Rivera missed the final against Yugoslavia through an injury he picked up at the semi-final game against Soviet Union. Next season, Rivera and AC Milan emerged victorious in the Champions Cup, a success that finally earned him a Ballon d'Or.

Rivera led AC Milan to two Cup Winners' Cup finals, one in 1973 and another in 1974; the first one was won and the second lost. With the Rossoneri, he also won two consecutive Italian titles, in 1972 and 1973. AC Milan also won several Italian Cups in the 70's but were missing Rivera in most of them, as he was banned because of his statements against Italian referees.

Rivera achieved the last scudetto of his playing career in 1979 with AC Milan, this also being the tenth title for "The Devils". In total, he played for AC Milan in 501 Serie A matches and scored 160 goals.

National team[edit]

He played with the Squadra Azzurra (Italian national team) in the 1970 FIFA World Cup hosted by Mexico, where they reached the final, losing against Brazil, 4–1. The Italian coach at the 1970 World Cup Final, Ferruccio Valcareggi, believed that Rivera and his teammate Sandro Mazzola could not play together on the same field. Although Rivera was the more famous of the two, Valcareggi elected to start Mazzola. However, by 2nd round, the Italian offense failed to sparkle. Valcareggi devised a solution he called "staffetta" (relay) to play both players. Mazzola would start in the first half while Rivera would come in at halftime. With this strategy, Rivera helped to beat the hosts Mexico in the quarterfinal and West Germany in the semi-final, in which Rivera played a major role in one of the most entertaining games in World Cup history, scoring Italy's 4th and winning goal in a 4–3 victory. However, in the final against Brazil, Valcareggi did not use Rivera until there were only six minutes left in the game, despite Rivera being the hero of the past two matches.

He also played in the 1974 FIFA World Cup but did not appear in the match where the Italians were knocked out by Poland in a 2–1 loss. That was the end of Rivera's career with the national team for which he played in 63 games, scoring 15 goals in the process.

Retirement[edit]

Gianni Rivera
Rivera.jpg
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
In office
2 July 1987 – 29 May 2001
Constituency Piedmont II
Personal details
Political party Democratic Centre (since 2013)
The Daisy (2002–2007)
The Democrats (1999–2002)
Segni Pact (1994–1996)
Christian Democracy
(before 1994)

After retirement, Rivera became a vice-president at Milan. When Silvio Berlusconi bought the club in 1986, he resigned from his position and entered politics, becoming a member of the Italian Parliament. He served as an under-secretary for defense under Romano Prodi's government and later a non-inscrit Member of the European Parliament (MEP).

In 2013 Rivera was appointed by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) as President of the Technical Sector (settore tecnico), which oversees the training and qualification of technical staff employed by the FIGC and is headquartered at the Coverciano in Florence.[3]

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

Club Season League Cup Europe Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Alessandria 1958-59 1 0 - - - - - - 1 0
1959-60 25 6 - - - - - - 25 6
Total 26 6 - - - - - - 26 6
Milan 1960-61 30 6 1 0 - - 2 0 33 6
1961-62 27 10 1 0 2 0 - - 30 10
1962-63 27 9 - - 7 2 - - 34 11
1963-64 27 7 1 0 2 1 2 0 32 8
1964-65 29 2 - - - - - - 29 2
1965-66 31 7 1 0 4 1 - - 36 8
1966-67 34 12 6 7 2 0 1 0 43 19
1967-68 29 11 5 3 10 1 - - 44 15
1968-69 28 3 4 1 7 2 - - 39 6
1969-70 25 8 3 1 3 2 2 1 33 12
1970-71 26 6 10 7 - - - - 36 13
1971-72 23 3 6 2 8 4 - - 37 9
1972-73 28 17 6 3 9 0 - - 43 20
1973-74 26 6 5 1 8 0 - - 39 7
1974-75 27 3 4 0 - - - - 31 3
1975-76 14 1 5 1 3 0 - - 22 2
1976-77 27 4 7 0 5 0 - - 39 4
1977-78 30 6 5 1 1 0 - - 36 7
1978-79 13 1 4 1 5 0 - - 22 2
Total 501 122 74 28 76 13 7 1 658 164
Career total 527 128 74 28 76 13 7 1 684 170

*European competitions include the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, UEFA Cup, and UEFA Super Cup

International[edit]

[4]

Italy national team
Year Apps Goals
1962 4 2
1963 5 2
1964 4 2
1965 6 1
1966 6 2
1967 4 0
1968 4 0
1969 3 0
1970 7 2
1971 3 0
1972 3 0
1973 7 2
1974 4 1
1975 3 1
Total 63 15

Honours[edit]

Milan
Italy
Individual

References[edit]

Preceded by
Cesare Maldini
A.C. Milan Captain
1966-1975
Succeeded by
Romeo Benetti
Preceded by
Romeo Benetti
A.C. Milan Captain
1976-1979
Succeeded by
Alberto Bigon

External Links[edit]