ROME (AP) - Former New York Cosmos star Giorgio Chinaglia died of complications from a heart attack Sunday. The Italian soccer great was 65.
With the Cosmos, he played alongside Pele and Franz Beckenbauer. He was the power scorer in a lineup that featured the finesse of Pele and the calculating play of Beckenbauer.
“I am a finisher. That means when I finish with the ball, it is in the back of the net,” Chinaglia said in 1978.
In 2000, he was inducted into the United States Soccer Hall of Fame and chosen the greatest player in Lazio’s history during the club’s centenary celebrations.
“Both myself and the entire city of Rome express profound condolences,” Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno said in a statement. “For Lazio fans Chinaglia was more than a symbol. He was a banner player that carried along an entire generation of fans and the emblem of the first title in 1974. And that’s how we remember him.
“We know that for years he was no longer a resident in Italy, but we’re available for the family for any type of initiative they want to organize to remember him,” Alemanno added.
Chinaglia was born in Tuscany, but his family soon moved to Wales, where he began his soccer career with Swansea.
Chinaglia returned to Italy with the small Tuscan club Massese in 1966 and eventually joined Lazio in 1969, going on to score 98 goals in 209 matches for the Roman team. Italian fans nicknamed him Long John for his Welsh past.
“Giorgio was one of soccer’s legendary figures and we’re honored and grateful to have had him as a part of the SiriusXM family,” the satellite radio company said in a statement. “All those who love the sport and listened to him share his stories and incredible knowledge of the game are better for the experience. He will be missed.”
Fabio Capello, who recently resigned as England coach and was a teammate of Chinaglia’s with Italy’s national team, said that “Giorgione remained close to me even after we stopped playing. He was a real friend to me.”