|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.
|Member of European Parliament from Italy|
25 May 2005 – 13 July 2009
|Member of the Chamber of Deputies|
2 July 1987 – 29 May 2001
|Political party||Democratic Centre (since 2013)
The Daisy (2002–2007)
The Democrats (1999–2002)
Segni Pact (1994–1996)
Dubbed Italy's "Golden Boy" by the media, he played the majority of his career with Serie A side A.C. Milan, after beginning his career with Alessandria for a season in 1959. With Milan, he enjoyed a highly successful career in domestic and European football. Internationally, he represented Italy 63 times, scoring 15 goals, and took part at four World Cups (1962, 1966, 1970, and 1974). Rivera is widely remembered for scoring the decisive goal in Italy's extra-time win over West Germany in the semi-final of the 1970 World Cup, leading them to final against Brazil, where they would be defeated 4–1, however. Rivera was also a member of the first Italian side to win the European Football Championship in 1968, on home soil, and represented Italy at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, helping the team to a fourth-place finish.
Rivera was an elegant, efficient, and creative offensive midfield playmaker, with an eye for goal, who possessed excellent technical ability, footballing intelligence, vision, and class. He is widely considered to be one of the most talented offensive playmakers of all time, due to his passing accuracy and his adeptness at providing assists. Regarded as one of the greatest Italian footballers of all time, and by some as Italy's greatest player ever, he was awarded the Ballon d'Or in 1969, and placed 19th in IFFHS's election for the World Player of the 20th Century. In 2015 he became the first Italian footballer out of 100 athletes to be inducted into Italy's sports Walk of Fame. In 2004, Pelè chose Rivera as part of the FIFA 100 greatest living footballers, and he placed 35th in the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll.
After retiring from football, Rivera went into politics and he is currently 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, and is one of the youngest players in history to have ever made their Serie A debut. He played 26 matches for his first club, for which he scored 6 goals. A year later, he was bought by A.C. Milan to replace Juan Schiaffino in the playmaking role, with a record transfer fee of $200,000 at the time, also being handed the number 10 jersey; during his time at the club, he would play alongside legendary Milan players such as Cesare Maldini, Giovanni Trapattoni, Dino Sani, Fabio Cudicini, and José Altafini, among others. In 1962 he won the first scudetto with 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. With Milan, Rivera would become known for his leadership, and he would later go on to become the club's captain for 12 seasons.
Rivera's 1962 scudetto victory with Milan, under legendary manager and catenaccio mastermind Nereo Rocco, enabled the team to qualify for the European Cup in 1962, a European Cup which the team finally won for the first time, beating Benfica 2–1 in the 1963 final. Rivera was in great form during the match, providing two notable assists for José Altafini's goals, and he was awarded second place in the famous Ballon d'Or award that year, which was won by the Russian goalkeeper Lev Yashin. Rivera helped Milan win the Coppa Italia during the 1966–67 season, finishing the competition as top-scorer, with 7 goals.
In the 1967–68 season, Rivera won both the league title and the Cup Winners' Cup final with Milan; he also played for Italy as they won the 1968 European Championship on home soil. Rivera missed the final against Yugoslavia through an injury he picked up at the semi-final game against Soviet Union, despite a strong performance during the match. Despite his performances and success throughout the season, Rivera missed out on the Ballon d'Or however, which was awarded to European Cup winner George Best, with Rivera finishing in 7th place in the final rankings. Next season, Rivera and Milan emerged victorious in the European Cup, winning the final over Johann Cruyff's Ajax, a match which is regarded as one of Rivera's greatest, most dominant, and most virtuosic performances, as he captained Milan to a 4–1 victory in the number 10 role at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, setting up one of Prati's three goals. In addition to the European Cup that season, Rivera also won the Intercontinental Cup, successes that finally earned him the Ballon d'Or in 1969.
In the 70s, Rivera led Milan on to two more Cup Winners' Cup finals, one in 1973 and another in 1974; Rivera managed to win the 1973 final with Milan, but the following year, Milan suffered a defeat in the final. Rivera also suffered a defeat in the 1974 European Supercup final with Milan. With the Rossoneri, during the 70s, he also won two consecutive Coppa Italia titles, in 1972, and 1973, a season during which he was top-scorer in Serie A, with 17 goals, and with a personal best of 20 goals in all club competitions. In the 1970–71, 1971–72 and the 1972–73 seasons, Milan managed three consecutive second places in Serie A, also reaching the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup during the 1971–72 season. Milan also reached the Coppa Italia final during the 1974–75 season, and won another Italian Cup in the 1976–77 season, although Rivera was missing in most of these Cup matches, as he was banned because of his statements against Italian referees, suggesting that they favoured Milan rivals Inter. One of Rivera's most prominent performance in the Coppa Italia during the 70s was in the 1970–71 edition, where Milan finished in second place, and in which he was once again top-scorer, with 7 goals.
Rivera achieved the last scudetto of his playing career in his final season, still contributing to the League victory with Milan in 1979, despite his own advancing age; this was the tenth title for "The Devils", earning them a star on their jersey. In total, he played for Milan in 501 Serie A matches and scored 160 goals, and with 527 Serie A appearances, is the 11th most capped player in Serie A history.
Rivera was a part of the Italian national side between 1962 and 1975. Rivera made his international debut with the under-21 side on 9 March 1960, scoring 2 goals in a 4–1 pre-Rome Olympic friendly win over Switzerland, alongside Giacomo Bulgarelli. At the Olympics, Rivera and Bulgarelli teamed up in midfield to help the Italians to a fourth-place finish. With the senior side, he made his debut on 13 May 1962 in a 3–1 away win against Belgium, and he took part at the 1962 and the 1966 World Cups with Italy. He would later be part of the victorious Italian side that would win their first European Championship in 1968 on home soil.
Rivera subsequently played with the Squadra Azzurra (Italian national team) in the 1970 FIFA World Cup hosted by Mexico, where he was Italy's star player as they reached the final, losing against Pelé's Brazil side, 4–1. The Italian coach at the 1970 World Cup Finals, Ferruccio Valcareggi, believed that Rivera and his fellow right-sided playmaker teammate Sandro Mazzola could not play together on the same field, as they played in similar positions for rival clubs. Although Rivera was arguably the more famous of the two at the time, Valcareggi elected to start Mazzola due to his pace, stamina, work-rate, and stronger physical and athletic attributes, which he deemed more important in the tournament. However, by the 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, scoring a goal, 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 match-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. Although the two creative Italian stars were finally able to play alongside each other, it was too late to overturn the result, and Brazil won the final 4–1.
He also played in the 1974 FIFA World Cup wearing the number 10 shirt, finally appearing alongside Mazzola. He scored a goal in the group stage against Haiti, but he did not appear in the match where the aging Italians were knocked out by Poland in a 2–1 loss. The 1974 World Cup elimination marked the end of Rivera's career with the national team. In total, he played in 63 games for Italy, scoring 15 goals in the process, the most goals scored by a midfielder for Italy, until he was overtaken by Daniele De Rossi.
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.
Rivera is featured in the EA Sports football video games FIFA 14 and FIFA 15's Classic XI – a multi-national all-star team, along with compatriots Bruno Conti, Giacinto Facchetti, and Franco Baresi.
Style of play
Rivera was a graceful, creative, technically gifted, and efficient offensive midfield playmaker, who possessed outstanding footballing intelligence, and class. Rivera was capable of playing anywhere in midfield or along the front line, but he was usually used in a free role, either as a central midfielder, or as a classic number 10 behind the forwards. Although he was not known for his defensive abilities, and lacked both stamina and pace, as well as notable physical and athletic attributes, he was an extremely talented player, and was renowned for his skilful yet effective style of play, despite his poor work-rate. Rivera was highly regarded for his ball control, quick feet, acceleration, agility, balance, dribbling skills, and technique, which allowed him to change direction quickly, and dribble past players with ease; despite his technical ability, skill, and elegance on the ball, he would often avoid undertaking individual dribbling runs or challenging defenders one on one unless he deemed them necessary, preferring to create space through his precise passing game. Indeed, above all, Rivera was known for his excellent vision and his sublime range of passing, which allowed him to control his team's play in midfield or play the ball first time, and also made him an excellent assist provider from any position on the pitch. Despite being primarily a creative midfield team player, who preferred assisting team-mates over scoring goals himself, Rivera was also known for having a keen eye for goal, and was an accurate finisher from both inside and outside the area; he is the highest-scoring midfielder in Serie A history, with 128 goals. He was also an accurate set piece and penalty-kick taker. Rivera is widely considered to be one of the greatest Italian footballers and one of the most talented playmakers of all time, as well as one of the best players of his generation. In 2004, Pelé chose Rivera as part of the FIFA 100 greatest living footballers, and he placed 35th in the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll.
*European competitions include the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, UEFA Cup, and UEFA Super Cup
|Italy national team|
- Italian League (3): 1961–62, 1967–68, 1978–79
- Coppa Italia (4): 1966–67, 1971–72, 1972–73, 1976–77
- UEFA Cup Winners' Cup (2): 1967–68, 1972–73
- European Cup (2): 1962–63, 1968–69
- Intercontinental Cup (1): 1969
- Ballon d'Or: 1969, runner up 1963
- FIFA XI: 1967
- Serie A Top Scorer: 1972–73 (shared with Giuseppe Savoldi and Paolino Pulici)
- FIFA 100
- UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll: #35
- A.C. Milan Hall of Fame
- Italian Football Hall of Fame: 2013
- Coppa Italia Top-scorer: 1966–67, 1970–71
- Golden Foot "Football Legends": 2003
- Italy's Sports Walk of Fame: 2015
- Gianni Rivera at National-Football-Teams.com
- "Legend of Calcio: Gianni Rivera". forzaitalianfootball.com. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
- "Gianni Rivera" (in Italian). Il Corriere della Sera. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
- "Gianni Rivera: La leggenda del Golden Boy" (in Italian). Storie di Calcio. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
- "Baggio, Sacchi e Rivera Figc ufficializza le nomine" (in Italian). Il Corriere dello Sport. 4 August 2010. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
- Marcelo Leme de Arruda (21 January 2000). "IFFHS' Players and Keepers of the Century for many countries". RSSSF. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
- Manlio Gasparotto (15 August 2015). "La Gazzetta dello Sport vota Rivera: è il miglior calciatore italiano di tutti i tempi" (in Italian). La Gazzetta dello Sport. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
- Karel Stokkermans (30 January 2000). "IFFHS' Century Elections: World - Player of the Century". RSSSF. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
- "Inaugurata la Walk of Fame: 100 targhe per celebrare le leggende dello sport italiano" (in Italian). Coni. 7 May 2015. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
- Erik Garin; Rui Silva (21 December 2006). "The UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll". RSSSF. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
- "AC Milan Hall of Fame: Gianni Rivera". A.C.Milan.com. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
- "Gianni Rivera, il "golden boy" del calcio italiano". Retrieved 1 November 2014.
- "Milan and Italy's golden boy: Gianni Rivera". fifa.com. FIFA. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
- "Addio Bulgarelli, bandiera del Bologna" (in Italian). Il Corriere della Sera. 13 February 2009. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
- "Convocazioni e presenze in campo: Gianni Rivera". figc.it (in Italian). FIGC. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
- "GIANNI RIVERA ALLA GUIDA DEL SETTORE TECNICO, LUCA PANCALLI AL SETTORE GIOVANILE E SCOLASTICO" (in Italian). FIGC. 28 August 2013.
- "FIFA 14 Classic XI". Retrieved 17 March 2015.
- "Gianni Rivera: Golden Boy" (in Italian). Maglia Rossonera.it. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "AC Milan and Italian Golden Boy: Gianni Rivera". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
- "Rivera: Premiato da Platini" (in Italian). Calcio Mercato.com. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
- "Award winner Rivera happy with his legacy". UEFA.com. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
- "I 10 migliori rigoristi della storia della Serie A". Retrieved 6 January 2015.
- Roberto Di Maggio (7 December 2002). "Gianni Rivera - Goals in International Matches". RSSSF. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- "1969 - Gianni Rivera" (in French). France Football. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- FIFA XI´s Matches - Full Info
- Roberto Di Maggio; Igor Kramarsic; Alberto Novello (11 June 2015). "Italy - Serie A Top Scorers". RSSSF. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
- "Zinedine Zidane voted top player by fans" (PDF). UEFA.com. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
- "BARESI, CAPELLO AND RIVERA ACCEPTED IN HALL OF FAME". A.C. Milan.com. 2 December 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
- Roberto Di Maggio; Davide Rota (4 June 2015). "Italy - Coppa Italia Top Scorers". RSSSF. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
- "Golden Foot Legends". Golden Foot.com. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
- "CNA 100 Leggende CONI per data di nascita" (PDF) (in Italian). Coni. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
- Gianni Rivera – FIFA competition record
- Profile and Statistics on the FIGC website (Italian)
- "FIFA Classic Player: Milan and Italy's Golden Boy". fifa.com.