There are some football players who seem to have been lost to history. While names such as Pele have resonated with fans for generations, others – including Giorgio Chinaglia – appear to be left in relative obscurity. However, the talent of Chinaglia while on the pitch cannot be denied.
This powerful striker was primarily known for his capacity to score goals when things got tough. Indeed, he led Lazio to their first Scudetto in 1974 and he would later be signed to the New York Cosmos; he was one of the first Italian players to have crossed the Atlantic at the time.
Nicknamed “Long John” for his physical attributes and style of play, Chinaglia did much to popularise the sport at the time due (in no small part) to his extremely extroverted personality and confidence while on the pitch.
A Man of Many Strengths
It is actually quite odd that Chinaglia is not talked about more due to his numerous accomplishments; having a prodigious height of 1.86 metres, he was quite a force to be reckoned with at the time.
He scored 734 goals throughout the lifetime of his career, which gave him an average of one goal every game. Some have even claimed that he is the highest Italian goalscorer of all time in reference to international competitions.
In terms of games played in Italy, Chinaglia is still the player with the highest ratio of goals scored per game; boasting 319 goals in a total of 429 games.
Off of the Pitch
It can also be argued that the life of Chinaglia, while away from the stadium, was just as intriguing. However, keep in mind that this Italian-born player arrived in the United Kingdom at eight years old; thus, he always held a rather cosmopolitan view of the world.
While this player took the pitch with immortals such as Pele, his reputation is also known for what some would call a darker side. Not only did Chinaglia party with celebrities including Frank Sinatra himself, but he was also tentatively linked to the Camorra crime syndicate. He was also forced to endure a two-year prison sentence in the 1990s due to fraudulent financial activities including money laundering. Italian authorities likewise filed charges against him for accusations of extortion in 2006. As he was living in the United States at the time, he was never extradited.
Much like casino games such as poker or blackjack, it appears as if Chinaglia was always full of surprises. Notwithstanding what might have happened while away from the game, the fact of the matter is that this flamboyant personality lived life to its fullest. It is therefore a shame that he passed away in 2012 at the relatively young age of 65. Still, his impact on the football community cannot be denied. Giorgio Chinaglia is the perfect example of a man who possessed the confidence to follow his dreams and perhaps, more importantly, to embrace his talents to their utmost potential.