GdS: Italian football mourns the loss of Gigi Riva – the time he rejected Milan

By Oliver Fisher -

Italian football is currently mourning the loss of Cagliari and Italian national team legend Luigi ‘Gigi’ Riva who passed away yesterday at the age of 79.

As La Gazzetta dello Sport (via PianetaMilan) recall, Riva was born in Legnano, Lombardy, and he played one season (1962-63) with the team of his home city in Serie C. Then, in the summer of 1963, he moved to Cagliari in Serie B.

He stayed in Sardinia for 14 seasons, until 1977, scoring 208 goals in 378 games. He won the 1970 Scudetto in rossoblu, becoming an icon for Cagliari and for all the Sardinian people.

With Italy Riva won the 1968 European Championship and scored 35 goals in 42 matches played from 1965 to 1974 . He is the Azzurri’s top scorer of all time, ahead of Giuseppe Meazza (33 goals), Silvio Piola (30), Roberto Baggio and Alessandro Del Piero (27).

What endeared him to Cagliari fans was that he refused to leave for one of the top clubs. Giovanni Agnelli offered him €1.1bn lire – a hyperbolic figure at the time – to take him to Juventus.

However, the forward made a life choice and remained faithful to the red and blue shirt and to the island, Sardinia, which had welcomed him so well and seen him grow as a man, after some initial skepticism on his part.

Riva didn’t just reject the Old Lady though, because the paper mentions that Milan and – as Massimo Moratti said – also his father Angelo’s Inter tried for him, but without success.

The Italy bomber’s response was always the same – ‘no thanks’ – a symbol of a loyalty to the shirt that perhaps no longer exists.


Tags AC Milan Gigi Riva

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