|Full name||Giovanni Rivera|
|Date of birth||18 August 1943|
|Place of birth||Alessandria, Italy|
|Height||1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|* 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. He played the majority of his career with Serie A side A.C. Milan. Internationally, he represented Italy, 60 times scoring 14 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, mostly known for his dribbling skills and vision. Rivera was a hugely respected footballer, this was demonstrated with finishing runners up for the Ballon Do'r in 1963, and eventually winning the honor in 1969.
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.
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.
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 60 games, scoring 14 goals in the process.
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.
*European competitions include the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, UEFA Cup, and UEFA Super Cup
|Italy national team|
- Italian League (3): 1962, 1968, 1979
- Coppa Italia (4): 1967, 1972, 1973, 1977
- Serie A Top Scorer: 1973 (shared with Giuseppe Savoldi and Paolino Pulici)
- UEFA Cup Winners' Cup (2): 1968, 1973
- European Cup (2): 1963, 1969
- Intercontinental Cup (1): 1969
- 1970 FIFA World Cup runner-up
- UEFA European Championship: 1968
- European Player of the Year: 1969, runner up 1963
- Gianni Rivera at National-Football-Teams.com
|A.C. Milan Captain
|A.C. Milan Captain