- Category : Sports-Soccer
- Type : PSP
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Unexpected 4
Giorgio Chinaglia (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.
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. 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.
Early life and career beginnings in Wales
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. 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."
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.
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.
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.
Club career in Italy
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."
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.
The following season, he joined another Serie C club, Internapoli in Naples, where he played two seasons and scored 26 goals in 66 matches.
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.
National team career
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. 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. 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.
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. In total, he scored 4 goals for Italy in 14 appearances.
Career with the Cosmos
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 a 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.
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.
Chinaglia also holds an NASL indoor scoring record. In December 1981, Chinaglia decided to give indoor soccer a try and in his first game against the Chicago Sting, he set the all time NASL indoor scoring record for most goals scored in a one game (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.
Style of play
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. 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. Chinaglia was known for his powerful and accurate shot and finishing ability, both inside and outside the area, as well as his athletic and acrobatic ability in the air. Although he was not initially regarded as the most talented or technically gifted player, 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. He was also an accurate penalty taker. 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, in particular during his time at Lazio. However, despite his prolific goalscoring record, he was criticised at times for being selfish, arrogant, and for his work-rate. 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. He also drew negative attention to himself in the press due to his hedonistic lifestyle, as well as certain legal problems throughout his career, and accusations of criminal activity.
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.
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.
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 501C3 non profit dedicated to globally improving soccer/football programs for children with disabilities.