Thursday, August 18, 2011

18 August 1943 - Milan's Golden Boy Is Born

On 18 August 1943, future AC Milan captain and 1969 Ballon d'Or winner Gianni Rivera was born in Alessandria, Italy.

A high-scoring midfielder, Rivera--nicknamed "the Golden Boy"--began his professional career in 1959 with his hometown club, but moved to AC Milan in 1960. He remained there until his retirement in 1979, amassing a total of 658 appearances and 164 goals for the Rossoneri in all competitions. Along the way, they won three scudettos (1962, 1968, 1979), four Coppa Italias (1967, 1972, 1973, 1977), one Intercontinental Cup (1969), two Cup Winners' Cups (1968, 1973), and two European Cups (1963, 1969).

After that first European Cup, a 2-1 victory over Benfica, Rivera finished as runner-up to Dynamo Moscow keeper Lev Yashin for that year's Ballon d'Or. He finally claimed the award in 1963 after leading Milan to that year's European Cup, despite missing the final against Ajax due to an ankle injury.

Rivera also starred for Italy, making 60 appearances between 1962 and 1974. During that time, Italy won the 1968 European Championship and reached the final of the 1970 World Cup (where they lost to Brazil).

After his retirement, he held a vice-president position with Milan until 1986. In 2004, Pelé named him one of the 125 greatest living players.

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