Giorgio Chinaglia

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Giorgio Chinaglia
Giorgio Chinaglia 1974-75 2.jpg
Chinaglia with Lazio, in 1974
Personal information
Full name Giorgio Chinaglia
Date of birth (1947-01-24)24 January 1947
Place of birth Carrara, Italy
Date of death 1 April 2012(2012-04-01) (aged 65)
Place of death Naples, Florida, United States[1]
Playing position Striker
Youth career
1962–1964 Swansea Town
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1964–1966 Swansea Town 6 (1)
1966–1967 Massese 32 (5)
1967–1969 Internapoli 66 (24)
1969–1976 Lazio 209 (98)
1976–1983 New York Cosmos 213 (193)
Total 547 (359)
National team
1972–1975 Italy 14 (4)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (Goals).

Giorgio Chinaglia (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒordʒo kiˈnaʎʎa]; 24 January 1947 – 1 April 2012) was an Italian footballer. He grew up and played his early football in Cardiff, Wales, and began his career with Swansea Town in 1964. He later returned to Italy to play for Massese, Internapoli and S.S. Lazio in 1969. He played international football for Italy, including two appearances at the 1974 FIFA World Cup.

In 1976, Chinaglia left Lazio to sign with the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League. With the Cosmos team that also featured Pelé and Franz Beckenbauer, Chinaglia won four league titles, and retired in 1983 as NASL's all-time leading scorer with 243 goals.[2]

In 2000, Chinaglia was inducted into the United States National Soccer Hall of Fame and was named the greatest player in Lazio's history during the club's centenary celebrations; with 29 goals, he is also the highest scoring Lazio player in international competitions.

Throughout his career, Chinaglia was given the nickname "Long John", a reference to the fictional literary character created by Robert Louis Stevenson, due to his height, physique, and his tenacious, fearless style of play, as well as his eye for goal and his temper.[3] The nickname was also a reference to Chinaglia's resemblance to the similarly large Welsh footballing legend John Charles, and as Chinaglia had also lived in Wales.[4]

Early life and career beginnings in Wales[edit]

Chinaglia was born in Carrara, Tuscany in 1947, but in 1955, he moved to Cardiff, Wales with his father Mario, mother Giovanna and his sister Rita, because of unemployment in Italy following World War II.[5] Because his family was poor, Chinaglia said, "All four of us lived in one room," he says, "My father was an ironworker and it was tough. I used to take the milk left on people's porches and drink it for breakfast."[6]

At age 13, by which time his father had bought an Italian restaurant in Cardiff, Chinaglia was spotted scoring a hat trick for Cardiff Schools, and joined Swansea Town in the Football League Third Division as an apprentice in 1962.[7]

Chinaglia made his senior debut for Swansea in October 1964 at Rotherham United, with his League debut following in February. His final Swans appearance was in March 1966, coming on as a substitute against Brentford.[8]

With Swansea, Chinaglia won the 1965 West Wales Senior Cup, scoring in the 3–0 victory in the final against Llanelli, and represented the Swansea Senior Association Football League in 1964 in a representative match against the Birmingham & District Works Football Association.[9]

Club career in Italy[edit]

Serie C[edit]

In 1966, because of the lack of interest from British clubs and his compulsory Italian military service, Chinaglia, then age 19, and his family moved back to Carrara. He credited the military requirement with getting his career on track, saying, "Otherwise, I'd probably still be in Wales, slogging it out in the mud and drinking ale. The Italian army has a special regiment for soccer players, so all I did in the service was to train all day, and when my club had a game, get a pass."[6]

Chinaglia was banned from playing in Serie A, the top division, for three years because he had played professionally outside of Italy, and his father fixed him up with Massese, a Serie C club in Massa near his home.[10]

The following season, he joined another Serie C club, Internapoli in Naples, where he played two seasons and scored 26 goals in 66 matches.[6]


Chinaglia rose to fame as a prolific goalscorer in Italy's Serie A, playing for S.S. Lazio, scoring 12 goals in his debut Serie A season, including a notable goal against European Cup holders Milan, led by Gianni Rivera. He scored 9 goals in his second season, which was insufficient to prevent Lazio from being relegated to Serie B the following season. Despite Lazio's poor league form that year, Chinaglia won the Coppa delle Alpi with Lazio in 1971, defeating Basel 3-1 in the final. He helped Lazio to gain promotion to Serie A during the following season, leading the club to a second-place finish in Serie B that year, and finishing the season as the leading goalscorer in Serie B, with 21 goals. The following season, Chinaglia scored 10 goals in Serie A, as Lazio narrowly missed out on the title, losing it to Juventus on the final matchday. During the 1973-74 season, he led the top Italian league in scoring, with 24 goals, and he helped his team to the Serie A title that year, scoring the decisive goal from a penalty in a 1-0 win over Foggia. He was named the club's captain during his final season in Italy, concluding his European career with 14 goals. In total, he scored 98 league goals for Lazio in 209 appearances, 77 of which were scored in Serie A, in 175 appearances. He scored 122 goals in 246 appearances in all competitions for Lazio, scoring 13 goals in 28 Coppa Italia appearances, and 9 goals in 11 European matches.[11][12]

National team career[edit]

Chinaglia's play with Lazio earned him a place on head coach Ferruccio Valcareggi's shortlist for the Italy squad in the 1970 FIFA World Cup. He did not make the final 22-man squad, but Valcareggi took him to Mexico for experience.[10] Italy reached the final of the tournament.

In 1971, after Lazio were demoted to Serie B, Chinaglia became the first Italian national team player in modern history to be selected from a second-tier division club.[6] Chinaglia scored on his debut in a friendly match against Bulgaria, on the 21st June 1972, in Sofia.

In 1973, Chinaglia returned to England with the Azzurri to face England in a friendly match. In the 86th minute, Chinaglia beat English defender Bobby Moore and sent in a cross that was tapped in by Fabio Capello, helping Italy to its first win over England at Wembley Stadium.[13]

Along with his team mates Re Cecconi and Wilson, Chinaglia took part in 1974 FIFA World Cup in Germany, although he was used scarcely by Italy manager Ferruccio Valcareggi. With his successor, Fulvio Bernardini, the situation did not improve. Chinaglia became notoriously famous for his strong verbal reaction upon being substituted by Valcareggi for Anastasi during the match against Haïti at the 1974 World Cup.[3][14] In total, he scored 4 goals for Italy in 14 appearances between 1972 and 1975.[15]

Career with the Cosmos[edit]

In 1976, Chinaglia moved to the NASL and the New York Cosmos. While many foreign stars would play in the NASL (Pelé, George Best, Johan Cruyff and Gerd Müller being the best examples), Chinaglia was probably the first great player to leave his original team for the NASL while still in the prime of his career. This is evident with the great success he had in the NASL, scoring 397 goals in outdoor games and 38 goals in 21 indoor games giving him a total of 435 goals in 413 matches during his Cosmos career. He led his team in scoring for (13) straight seasons, 6 at Lazio and 7 at the Cosmos. Chinaglia scored 2 or more goals 54 times for the Cosmos, of which 14 were playoff games. He scored 3 or more goals in a game 16 times, 5 in the playoffs. He scored 7 goals in a playoff game vs. the Tulsa Roughnecks in 1980 as well as 7 goals in an indoor game vs. the Chicago Sting on 8 December 1981. Chinaglia also netted 8 goals in an exhibition game. Chinaglia won the NASL Most Valuable Player Award in 1981.[16]

Chinaglia scored 49 goals in 41 playoff games for the Cosmos for his career and scored 5 goals in 5 Soccer Bowls, 3 of which were game winners (1977, 1978, and 1982).

1980 was Chinaglia's greatest year, scoring 76 goals in 66 matches that year. 50 goals were scored during the NASL regular season and playoffs (32 goals in 32 regular season games and 18 goals in 7 playoff games). The NASL regular season record for most goals is also held by Chinaglia with 34 goals in 1978.

In December 1981, Chinaglia decided to give indoor soccer a try, and in his first game against the Chicago Sting, he set an individual all-time NASL indoor record for most goals in a single match, by netting 7.

In 2000 he was inducted into the U.S.A. National Soccer Hall of Fame. He also became a close associate of Warner Brothers president Steve Ross, part-owner of the franchise, and was known to thoroughly enjoy the cultural diversions that New York provided.[17]

Style of play[edit]

Regarded as one of the top Italian strikers of his generation, Chinaglia was a large, strong, fast, and powerful player, with a keen eye for goal.[18] Often described as one of the first true old fashioned centre-forwards in Italy, his physical, determined, and opportunistic style of play was initially seen as unorthodox, but he developed into a prominent and prolific goalscorer.[4] Chinaglia was known for his powerful and accurate shot and finishing ability, both inside and outside the area,[19] as well as his athletic and acrobatic ability in the air.[12] Although he was not initially regarded as the most talented or technically gifted player,[20] he developed his skill and control with time, showing great technical improvements and finesse later on in his career, which also led him to dribble with the ball at speed during counterattacks on occasion.[11][12] He was also an accurate penalty taker.[12]

Look at me. I am Giorgio Chinaglia. I beat you!

—Giorgio Chinaglia.[21][22]

In addition to his footballing attributes, Chinaglia was a confident, charismatic and highly influential player on the pitch, due to his flamboyant, outspoken, eccentric, and extroverted personality, as well as his unique sense of humour with his team-mates, which led him to become one of the first true footballing stars. He was also known for his leadership throughout his career,[19] in particular during his time at Lazio.[11] However, despite his prolific goalscoring record, he was criticised at times for being selfish, arrogant, and for his work-rate.[23] Although he was popular with fans and team-mates, he also had a controversial, brash, and rebellious character, and an aggressive temper at times, which led to arguments and altercations with some of his managers and team-mates throughout his career.[4][24] He also drew negative attention to himself in the press due to his hedonistic lifestyle,[23] as well as certain legal problems throughout his career, and accusations of criminal activity.[4][24]

Later life[edit]

At the time of his death, Chinaglia was co-hosting a daily soccer talk show, The Football Show, from 0700 to 0900 on Sirius Satellite Radio.[25]

In 1979, Chinaglia became a naturalized American citizen, telling New York Times reporter Diane Ackerman that he proudly kept his citizenship papers in his locker next to his bottle of Chivas Regal.[26]


Giorgio always had a soft spot for children who had it difficult. During his life he did many small and large things for children. Therefore, the executors of Giorgio's estate, his 3 children, Cynthia, Giorgio Jr., and Stephanie have incorporated the Giorgio Chinaglia Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to globally improving soccer/football programmes for children with disabilities.



New York Cosmos



  • Arrivederci Swansea: The Giorgio Chinaglia Story (by Mario Risoli, Mainstream Publishing).


  1. ^ "Former Cosmos, Lazio star Giorgio Chinaglia dies". The Southern. 1 April 2012. Retrieved 1 April 2012. 
  2. ^ "Giorgio Chinaglia, Cosmos and Lazio Star, Dies at 65". The New York Times. April 1, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Lutto nel calcio: morto Chinaglia". Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Look at me. I am Giorgio Chinaglia. I beat you!' - Farewell to the footballing legend who made Pele cry". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  5. ^ Newsham, Gavin (2006). Once in a lifetime: the incredible story of the New York Cosmos. Open City Books. pp. 79–80. ISBN 0-8021-4288-5. 
  6. ^ a b c d Reed, J.D. (21 May 1979). "Look at Me! I Am Giorgio Chinaglia! I Beat You!". Sports Illustrated. 
  7. ^ Bevan, Nathan (27 July 2008). "Football hero on Mafia rap". Wales on Sunday. 
  8. ^ "Fabio follows Giorgio's lead". News: In the Spotlight. Swansea City FC. 13 June 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  9. ^ Thomas, Cyril D. (2000). Swansea Senior Football League, 1901–2001 – 100 Years of Local Soccer. Swansea Senior Football League. pp. 64–65. ISBN 0-9532038-3-2. 
  10. ^ a b Risoli, Mario (May 2000). "Golden Great: Giorgio Chinaglia". Channel 4. [dead link]
  11. ^ a b c "Addio Giorgio Chinaglia, morto in Florida per un infarto". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c d "L'ultimo grande dribbling di Long John Chinaglia". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  13. ^ Barber, Brian (17 December 2007). "Capello's goal". [dead link]
  14. ^ "Quando Chinaglia s' arrabbiò con Valcareggi". Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  15. ^ "Nazionale in cifre: Chinaglia, Giorgio". (in Italian). FIGC. Retrieved 22 April 2015. 
  16. ^ Horner, Matthew (November 15, 2009). He Shot, He Scored: The Official Biography of Peter Ward. Sea View Media. p. 156. ISBN 978-0956276902. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  17. ^ Bondy, Filip (1 April 2012). "Former Comos star Chinaglia dead at 65". Daily News (New York). 
  18. ^ "E' morto Giorgio Chinaglia". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  19. ^ a b "Addio a Giorgio Chinaglia, il campione senza regole". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  20. ^ Shaw, Phil (4 April 2012). "Giorgio Chinaglia: Striker for Lazio, Italy and New York Cosmos". The Independent. Retrieved 28 February 2015. 
  21. ^ Tittle, Jeremiah. "Remembering Chinaglia". Bein Sports. Retrieved 28 February 2015. 
  22. ^ Jackson, Peter (2 April 2012). "A New York giant from the Valleys who made Pele cry". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 28 February 2015. 
  23. ^ a b "Giorgio Chinaglia obituary". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  24. ^ a b "Giorgio Chinaglia, Italian Star and the Cosmos’ Leader, Dies at 65". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  25. ^ In the Studio at SIRIUS XM Stars[dead link]
  26. ^ Lighting Up the Cosmos By DIANE ACKERMAN 31 May 1981 New York Times . Accessed via the New York Times web archive 27 March 2009 (login required)

External links[edit]