Thursday, 5 April 2012

Unsung Hero - Giorgio Chinaglia

From Italy to Wales, back to Italy and then America. How many players paths have taken this route?
Giorgio Chinaglia was truly a global footballer, but for a majority of people upon hearing of his passing this week would have said Giorgio who??

Born in Italy, his career started in Wales of all places with his Father seeking work there after the war.  Impressing as a schoolboy he was signed by Swansea Town. Although he won honours with the club his lack of discipline and attitude towards training saw him shown the door. He put his lack of motivation down to a need to challenge himself, saying that when he was nine he would play against the bigger thirteen & fourteen year old to push himself.

A combination of Italian National Service and a lack of interest from any other domestic club saw him return to Italy, where he went on to join Lazio. He was voted by the fans as Lazio's greatest ever player and it was once Tommaso Maestrelli became manager that he really hit his stride. His goal scoring prowess saw him help The Eagles of Rome win their first League Title in 1974.
His International career was cut short though in typical temperamental style after being subbed for Italy he stormed off the pitch; giving the manager the finger on the way before getting to the dressing room and smashing glass water bottles against the wall! He was also the man who set up former England boss Fabio Cappello for his goal against eventual employers that help see Italy record their first victory @ Wembley.

A showman, maverick and prolific goal scorer, the first player to join the Soccer Revolution in America while still in his prime and the highest goalscorer in NASL history. This of course was the Seventies and at that time along with the game came the fame, women and playboy lifestyle.
Seen as the bad guy of US Soccer, he called himself the "anti-Pele" when "©the greatest player in the World" arrived for training in New York late & overweight Chinaglia simply remarked "He's just another player I'll have to carry until he gets fit,"  another outburst was alleged to have left the great man in tears after the Italian criticised his positioning on the pitch!
He was a legend though in both Italy and America, with the New York club proclaiming him as their "one of the most exceptional soccer players to ever play in the United States and the New York Cosmos' greatest player ever".
trailblazer of the American game it's re-emergence today is a testament to the great man.

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