Gianni Rivera Is undeniably one of the best Italian footballers ever. The AC Milan's legend is considered as one of the most talented and advanced midfielders of his generation. Read on to find out more facts about Gianni Rivera.
Gianni Rivera played for almost two decades inMilan
and won dozens of titles in the 1960s and 1970s.
Rivera was born in Alessandria on August 18, 1943. The passion for football was obvious right from
Gianni Rivera's Childhood
, and his unique, flawless style and creativity soon caught everyone's eye. At first, Rivera was more of a winger, but at the peak of his career he found himself more useful in the central midfield position, playing deep and creating opportunities.
Rivera made his debut inSerie A
at the age of 15 for his hometown clubAlessandria
. The opposite team in the debut match was Milan's arch rivalsInter Milan
. Rivera was part ofItaly national team
squad in four FIFA World Cups.
Gianni Rivera was a part of Azzurri in their first European Championship on their home soil in 1968. Two years later, he scored a winning goal during the FIFA World Cup semi finals against West Germany. The match is also known as "the Game of the Century" and in the 111th minute, Rivera scored a goal that granted the 4-3 victory for Italy.
Except for the early years of his football career, Rivera dedicated his career to Rossoneri.
Gianni Rivera's football career lasted for 20 years between 1959 to 1979. After his retirement, he served Milan as vice-president. He remained in the vice president role until Italian politician Silvio Berlusconi bought the club, then Rivera handed his resignation to the club and entered politics.
Gianni Rivera was born on August 18, 1943, in Alessandria in Piedmont. The city is geographically between Turin in Piedmont and Milan in the Lombardy region.
A fact about
Gianni Rivera's Parents
is that they were mid class citizens. His father, Teresio was a railway worker and his mother was Edera Arobba. Alessandria was a strategic military target during World War II and was subjected to intense bombing operations, especially in 1944, when Rivera was one year old.
Rivera showed a lot of attractions in football and played for ASD Don Bosco when he was a kid. Franco Pedroni a former AC Milan player scouted Rivera and brought him to U.S. Alessandria, where he recently played and was also an assistant manager there. Pedroni was a midfielder and became a mentor for young Gianni.
A fact about Gianni Rivera's personal life is that he is married to Laura Marconi. Their personal life has been always far from gossip. They married on June 28, 1987, and have two children.
Gianni Rivera’s children
, it should be mentioned that he has two children with Laura Marconi, Gianni (born in 1996) and Chantal (born in 1994). Rivera also has another daughter, Nicole, who was born in 1977 after his relationship with the Italian former actress Elisabetta Viviani, and they weren’t married.
Laura Marconi lives in Rome with his husband and family. “Free, a little wild, instinctive like Laura. I saw her on the tennis court and she conquered me because I understood that she would never be changed or bent by commonplaces or by the wishes of others” Rivera said about his wife in an interview.
Talking about Gianni junior, Rivera once said: “ [Gianni] has an artistic temperament and loves tennis rather than football, despite the fact that every now and then he forces me into the goal to parry his shots.“
Rivera founded the Italian Footballers’ Association or AIC in Milan on July 3, 1968. Gianni Rivera is featured in the EA Sports football video games FIFA 11, FIFA 14, and FIFA 15’s classic XI which is a multi national all star team.
After retiring from football, Gianni Rivera entered the world of politics. He became Milan’s vice president from 1979 until 1986, and was elected in 1987 on the list of Christian Democrats.
In 1994, following the dissolution of the DC, he entered the Segni Pact, later becoming its President, and was again elected to Parliament. For a while, Rivera was under-secretary of state for defense. He was in Parliament until 2001. In 2005, he entered the European Parliament.
In 2012, Rivera took part in the eighth season of Ballando con le Stelle (the Italian edition of Dancing with the Stars) on Rai 1.
After his stint as an MEP, he returned to football in 2013. He was appointed the president of the educational youth sector by the IFGC for the Italy national football team, alongside Roberto Baggio and Arrigo Sacchi.
Gianni Rivera's age was 15 when he made his debut for the Alessandria senior team. A newborn football system was viral at the time, named Catenaccio. The Catenaccio system had a huge emphasis on defense, but Gianni was a skillful and talent gifted player. In the 1959-60 season, Alessandria relegated from Serie A, but Rivera's performance was not unseen.
Milan transferred the 16 years old Rivera in the same season that legendary captain Nils Liedholm ended his football career to pursue managing. Giovanni Trapattoni and Cesare Maldini were two other notable teammates of Rivera in his debut season. In the second season, Nereo Rocco, the mastermind of the Catenaccio system, became the new coach of Milan. Rocco and Rivera bounded a great professional relationship. Rocco made a hard-working and defensive team around Rivera.
In Italy, many roles and positions have specific names. A trequartista is the player who operates attacks behind the strikers; a fantasista is the creative, technically magician who brings something from nothing, while the regista is the deep lying director. Gianni Rivera had all the skills required for all three roles. This set of skills gave him a game changer and flexible role in the middle.
Milan won the Scudetto in 1961-62 while Rivera was a key player with only 18 years old wearing a number 10 shirt. The Italian media gave him the Golden Boy nickname. He was called up for the national team for the 1962 FIFA World Cup.
The next year in Serie A was Inter's turn for the championship with Helenio Herrera's Catenaccio, but Milan did something bigger. In the European Cup, with the help of Rivera's leadership and Altafini's amazing performances, Milan became the first Italian champion of the competition. Rivera's stunning form brought him the nomination for Ballon d'Or in 1963. He finished runner up behind Russian legend Lev Yashin.
1963 Intercontinental Cup was an iconic match between Rivera's Milan and Pele's Santos. Milan won the first leg in San Siro with a 4-2 result. The result repeated in favor of the host in Rio de Janeiro, where Pele scored two goals. Milan lost the title to Santos in the play off match. Manager Nereo Rocco left Milan for Torino and that resulted in Milan's decline while Rivera kept in his great form. Rivera had an important role in the 1966–67 Coppa Italia championship for Milan. He was the competition's top scorer with seven goals.
Next season, Nereo Rocco returned to Milan as the manager. Rocco's return led to Serie A and Cup Winners' Cup championship for Milan. In 1968 Italian journalist Gianni Brera named Rivera as the greatest Italian player post-World War II.
In 1969, Rivera led Milan to the second European Cup championship while he was the captain. The final match between Milan andAjax
in Santiago Bernabéu is considered as greatest, most dominant performance. He provided two assists for Pierino Prati and helped him score a hat trick. It was the last time a player scores a hat trick in the European Cup (Champions League) final. This great job from Rivera handed him the 1969 Ballon d'Or, making him the first Milan player and the second Italian to win the prestigious award.
In the 70s Rivera continued to shine like a diamond. He won three Coppa Italia titles and one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in the 70s.
Following Rocco's second departure from Milan in 1973, the club's management tried to persuade Rivera to leave Milan, although Rivera remained loyal to Rossoneri and spent the rest of his football career in Milan.
At the age of 35, despite his advancing age and physical decline, Rivera had his contribution for Milan's 10th Scudetto in 1979. For 12 out of 19 seasons in Milan, Rivera wore the captain's armband. He is the 11th most capped player in Serie A history with 527 appearances.
Rivera was a part of Azzurri for 12 years, from 1962 to 1974. Before that Rivera caped for the Italian youth team. The first international debut by Rivera was for the Italy Under-21 team on March 9, 1960. Gli Azzurrini facedSwitzerland
in a friendly match before the Olympics. Rivera scored two goals in that match. 1960 summer Olympics was held in Italy, but they finished in fourth place. Rivera scored three goals in that tournament.
Rivera's senior team debut was on May 13, 1962 in a 3–1 away win againstBelgium
. He was eighteen years old at the time. A few months later, he took part in his first FIFA World Cup, in Chile. He played right wing in the match against West Germany. Rivera's debut World Cup match ended without goals.
When Gianni was 19, he scored his first goal for Azzurri in a 6–0 home win overTurkey
. It was Italy's opening fixture of Euro 1964 qualifying. That goal made Rivera the second youngest goal scorer for Azzurri at the time. He added another goal in that match making him the youngest brace scorer for Azzurri.
1966 FIFA World Cup was a disaster for Italy. They eliminated following an unexpected defeat to North Korea in their final group match. Despite the poor results by Italy, critics praised Rivera's performances.
Helenio Herrera became the manager of Italy and he called his Grande Inter player and Rivera was excluded for a while. The 1968 UEFA European Football Championship was a perfect opportunity for Rivera to win silverware with the national team on home soil. He led Azzurri to the final match, where he was missing due to an injury in the semi finals. The Italian side won their only European Championship.
The next tournament was the 1970 World Cup remembered for devising the infamous "staffetta" (relay) match strategy. For the defensive balance of the team, Italian manager Ferruccio Valcareggi decided to plan a relay strategy for the playmaker role.
Sandro Mazzola, Inter's star would play the first half because he was physically stronger than Rivera and the Golden Boy replaced him in the second half to use his unique skills. Valcareggi believed that those two players with a similar set of skills were not compatible with the team. This strategy helped Italy, especially against the hostMexico
in the quarterfinals. The match was 1-1 in the first half while Rivera was on the bench.
Rivera replaced Mazzola and for a beautiful partnership with Luigi Riva led to 4-1 with two goals from Riva provided by Rivera and one from Rivera himself. The semi final match between Italy and West Germany is called the Game of the Century. Despite an early goal for Italy, Schnellinger scored an equalizer in the Injury time. In the extra time, it was Rivera who assisted two goals with his trademark passes. In one of the most entertaining football games Rivera made a simple mistake that led to Gerd Müller's equalizer goal in the 110th minute.
The match was a 3-3 tie. It was intense for Rivera. "I told myself, there's no other alternative for me but to get the ball, take it past everyone, and score." Rivera about his state after the mistake against West Germany. Slightly after that, Rivera made up for that mistake and scored a match winning goal for Italy.
In the final match againstBrazil
, despite Rivera being a game changer, the manager decided to use Mazzola again. This decision was welcomed by Pele who was worried: "I was worried that Rivera would come on, I thought that with Rivera Italy would be more dangerous.".
Rivera came in only six minutes before the match ending while Brazil was 3-1 ahead. Despite the 4-1 lost in the final, Rivera was ranked tenth in the 1970 Ballon d'Or.
1974 FIFA World Cup was the last tournament for the Golden Boy. He wore number 10 and at last played with Sandro Mazzola at the same time. Azzurri once again eliminated from the group stage.
After 60 caps and 14 goals, Rivera announced his retirement. He is the third top goal scorer Azzurri midfielder behind Roman legend Daniele De Rossi and another Alessandria born legend Adolfo Baloncieri.
Gianni Rivera began his senior club career in his hometown club, Alessandria and in two seasons he appeared in 26 games and scored six goals.
From 1960 to 1978, he played for Milan. In 19 seasons, he played in 501 league games and scored 122 times. In all competitions, he has played 658 games and had 164 goals for the Rossoneri. With 128 goals in 527 Serie A appearances across 20 seasons, he is the 11th most capped player in Serie A history and the highest scoring midfielder in the league's history.
At the international level, he played for the Italian national team from 1962 to 1974 in 60 games and scored 14 goals. He was the youngest goal scorer in international competitions.
Gianni Rivera's age
, it should be mentioned that he was born on August 18, 1943, so till now he has 77 years of age. Rivera is regarded as one of the best football players of his generation, one of the greatest Italian footballers and he was awarded the Ballon d’Or in 1969.
He was creative and one of the best passers and most talented offensive playmakers of all time due to his passing accuracy and his adeptness at providing assists. Most of his club career was in A.C. Milan and with the team he won three Serie A, four Coppa Italia, and two European cups.
As mentioned before, he became Milan’s vice president from 1979 until 1986, and after that entered the world of politics. He returned to football in 2013 as the President of the educational youth sector for the Italy national football team.
Gianni Rivera's body measurements
, it should be mentioned that there is no information on his body measurements but he is 1.75m tall.
Coppa Italia Top-scorer: 1966–67, 1970–71
Ballon d'Or: 1969, runner-up 1963
FIFA XI: 1967
Serie A Top-scorer: 1972–73 (shared with Giuseppe Savoldi and Paolino Pulici)
IFFHS Italian Player of the 20th Century: 1999
IFFHS European Player of the 20th Century (12th): 1999
IFFHS World Player of the 20th Century (19th): 1999
A.C. Milan Player of the 20th Century: 1999
Golden Foot "Football Legends": 2003
FIFA 100: 2004
UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll: #35, 2004
UEFA President's Award: 2011
Inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame: 2013
A.C. Milan Hall of Fame: 2014
Inducted into the Walk of Fame of Italian sport: 2015
When he joined from Alessandria to Milan, his transfer fee was a record at the time, $200,000 for a 16 year old boy who had played only one real season.
Gianni Rivera net worth and salary
, it has been estimated that he has a net worth of $1.5 Million - $5.5 Million at the age of 77 and his salary is not known.