Giovanni (“Gianni”) Rivera is a former Italian international football player who featured prominently during the 1960s and 1970s. He played as a deep-lying playmaker and is considered as one of the best footballers to have ever graced the game of football. Rivera was awarded the European Footballer of the Year in 1969 and was named in March 2004 by Pele as one of the 125 greatest living footballers.
Gianni Rivera developed at the youth academy of Alessandra and made his first team debut for the club in 1959. He played the 1959-1060 season for them and scored 6 goals in 26 impressive league fixtures. His debut in the Italian Serie A was against the mighty Inter Milan on June 2,1959. At the time he was only 15 years of age.
At the end of the 1959-1960 season, Rivera was signed by AC Milan for a then record tranfer fee of $ 200,000 and he went onto remain a Milan player for the rest of his playing career. He made a total of 501 league appearances for Milan and scored 160 goals. He won his first scudetto with Milan in 1962 and the European Cup the next year. He also became runner-up in the Ballon d’Or in that year. In 1967-1968, Rivera wn the league and the Cup Winners’ Cup and also won the scudetto in 1979. He won the European Cup with Milan in 1969 too and the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1973 again.
Gianni Rivera made his international debut for Italy on May 13,1962 against West Germany at the World Cup in Chile. He was only 18 years of age at the time. He went onto play for his nation at the 1970 and 1974 World Cup finals for Italy and made a total of 60 appearances for his nation and scored 14 goals between 1962 and 1974.
Gianni Rivera became the vice-president of AC Milan after he retired in 1979 but when Silvio Berlusconi bought Milan in 1986, he entered into politics. He is currently a Member of the European Parliament for the Uniti nell’Ulivo party.