Luigi Riva

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Luigi Riva
Luigi Riva 1966.jpg
Riva with the national team in 1966
Personal information
Date of birth (1944-11-07) November 7, 1944 (age 70)
Place of birth Leggiuno, Italy
Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Playing position Forward
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1961–1962 Legnano 23 (6)
1962–1976 Cagliari 315 (164)
Total 338 (170)
National team
1965–1974 Italy 42 (35)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Luigi Riva (born November 7, 1944), best known as Gigi Riva or by his nickname Rombo di Tuono (Roar of Thunder), is a former Italian footballer, the all-time leading scorer for the Italian national team.

Considered one of the best forwards of his generation, Riva enjoyed a remarkable scoring record for Cagliari thanks to his composure in front of goal, fearsome left foot and aerial ability. He led Cagliari to their only Serie A title in 1969-70, as well as winning the 1968 UEFA European Championship with Italy.


Riva was born in Leggiuno, in the province of Varese, Lombardy.

His career started in 1962 when he joined Legnano. He was acquired by Cagliari the next season and was to stay there for the rest of his career. He made his league debut for Cagliari on September 13, 1964, when the team lost 2-1 against Roma. He was Serie A top-scorer three times with Cagliari, in 1966/67, in 1968/69 and in 1969/70. His only Serie A title came in 1970.

He made his international debut on June 27, 1965 in a 2-1 defeat against Hungary. He would go on to become Italy's top-goalscorer of all-time, with 35 goals in just 42 matches and would win the 1968 European Championships, in the final of which he scored. In the 1970 World Cup in Mexico the Italian team finished runners up after losing 4-1 to Brazil in the final, before Mexico 70 he had scored 19 goals in 16 matches. He was Italy's topscorer in the competition and he netted the crucial extra-time goal - his 22nd in 21 internationals - against Germany in the semi-final.

He turned down a move to Juventus in 1973 at the age of 29 in order to remain with Cagliari, but, together with many other members of the Italian squad, displayed a series of disappointing performances at the 1974 World Cup, and he was eventually dropped for the last game against Poland.

His career was blighted by major injuries. He broke his left leg playing for the national side against Portugal shortly before the 1966 World Cup. He broke his right leg, again on international duty, this time against Austria just after the 1970 World Cup. In 1976, he ruptured a tendon in his right thigh playing for Cagliari against Milan. He never successfully recovered and, despite comeback attempts, eventually retired in 1978. He became an executive with Cagliari. He is currently a team managing staff member for the Italian national football team, and was also a member of the Italian national team who won the 2006 FIFA World Cup under his supervision.

In 2005 Cagliari retired his No. 11 jersey to honour him. Riva's jersey was the first to be retired by the Sardinian club, and the only one to date.

Style of play[edit]

Riva had a very powerful left foot and a very soft touch. Almost invincible during sprints, he mixed a great prowess at freekicks with an astonishing finishing skill.

Career statistics[edit]

Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Italy League Coppa Italia League Cup Europe Total
1962-63 Legnano Serie C 22 6
1963-64 Cagliari Serie B 26 8
1964-65 Serie A 32 9
1965-66 34 11
1966-67 23 18
1967-68 26 13
1968-69 29 20
1969-70 28 21 2 1
1970-71 13 8 3 3
1971-72 30 21
1972-73 26 12 1 0
1973-74 25 15
1974-75 8 2
1975-76 15 6
Total Italy 337 170
Career total 337 169



Italy Cagliari


Italy Italy


Ballon d'Or

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Luís Vinício
Serie A Top Scorer
Succeeded by
Pierino Prati
Preceded by
Pierino Prati
Serie A Top Scorer
1968-69 & 1969-70
Succeeded by
Roberto Boninsegna