Georgio Cinaglia

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Giorgio Chinaglia

Giorgio Chinaglia
Born 24 January 1947(1947-01-24)
Cararra, Italy
Died Apr. 1, 2012
Naples, Italy; United States [1]
Nationality American
Occupation Striker
Employer Swansea City A.F.C.; U.S. Massese 1919; Internapoli Camaldoli S.S.D.; S.S. Lazio; New York Cosmos (1971–1985)
Known for Soccer (Football)

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.

Early years 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.[3] 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."[4]

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.[5]

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.[6]

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.[7]

Club career in Italy

Serie C

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."[4]

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.[8]

The following season, he joined another Serie C club, Internapoli in Naples, where he played two seasons and scored 26 goals in 66 matches.[4]


Chinaglia rose to fame in Italy's Serie A, playing for S.S. Lazio, in which he led the Serie A in scoring and his team to the Serie A title in 1973/1974 season.

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.[8]

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.[4]

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.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11]

Later life

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.[12]

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.[13]


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.


  • 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. 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. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Reed, J.D. (21 May 1979). "Look at Me! I Am Giorgio Chinaglia! I Beat You!". Sports Illustrated. 
  5. Bevan, Nathan (27 July 2008). "Football hero on Mafia rap". Wales on Sunday. 
  6. "Fabio follows Giorgio's lead". News: In the Spotlight. Swansea City FC. 13 June 2011.,,10354~2375451,00.html. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  7. 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. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Risoli, Mario (May 2000). "Golden Great: Giorgio Chinaglia". Channel 4.  [dead link]
  9. Barber, Brian (17 December 2007). "Capello's goal".  [dead link]
  10. 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. 
  11. Bondy, Filip (1 April 2012). "Former Comos star Chinaglia dead at 65". Daily News (New York). 
  12. In the Studio at SIRIUS XM Stars [dead link]
  13. 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

Template:Italy Squad 1974 World Cup Template:Serie A top scorers

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