• Khedira:"Real Madrid will bounce back against Manchester City"
  • Emanuelson "all hell will break loose" if Milan fail to beat Anderlecht
  • Girard: I want Montpellier fans to give Arsenal players hell
  • Manchester United is the most valuable club in sport by Forbes Magazine with a value of £1.43billion
  • Barcelona have reportedly offered €60m for Brazilian starlet Neymar
  • Luuk De Jong signs 5 years contract with Borussia,M'Gladbach will pay €15 M to Dutch side
  • Manchester City and Barcelona are interested in Falcao who might cost them more than €40 million
  • Guardiola agent rubbishes Russia links
  • David Beckham Suspended by MLS Committee
  • Thiago Silva, Hulk make Brazil's Olympic squad
  • Robin van Persie to Juventus?‎
  • Diego Forlan signs with Internacional
  • Tottenham Hotspur Could Be Set For £200m Investment
  • Luis Van Gaal is the coach of the Netherlands national team
  • Man United & Man City On red alert as Inter Milan admit that Sneijder sale is a possibility
  • Inter captured Handanovic and Matias Silvestre
  • Bayern offers €25 million for Martinez

AC MILAN Macedonia Blog

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Milan History: The Golden Boy Gianni Rivera + Videos

Unlike some other blogs, I've decided here to remind you what rich history our club AC Milan has. A history we should cherish, share and tell it over and over again. AC Milan is a synonym with a very rich and powerful history, which is being build since 1899 till this present time we live in. 
Let's have a trip back in time and enjoy through words and sentences, the life that Gianni Rivera gave to our beloved club AC Milan.

Gianni Rivera was crowned king of European football in 1969. Paolo La Vecchia pays tribute to the epitome of calcio cool

Gianni Rivera was the original Golden Boy even before he became the first Italian-born winner of the Ballon d’Or. It was a nickname given to him by the legendary Gipo Viani, the ultra-defensive Milan co-Coach who instantly fell in love with the Bambino d’Oro, as he called him, during a scouting mission to Alessandria.

So excited with what he had found, Viani phoned Milan President Andrea Rizzoli for permission to sign him. The Rossoneri chief was unsure, especially given that the unproven midfielder was just out of school and would cost him a massive 90m Lire.

“President, there was fog,” Viani is noted as saying. “You could only see silhouettes and at times you couldn’t tell whether it was him or Schiaffino! Sign him President, listen to me.” Rizzoli, who at the time couldn’t even remember the boy’s name, agreed. It was the finest purchase he ever made.
Rivera, initially, was sent back to Alessandria on loan in order to bulk up given his fragile 16-year-old frame. But even on his return to Milan, boss Nereo Rocco had his doubts until he gave him a game. Once in the side, he basically stayed there for the next 19 years.

“It’s true that he doesn’t run much, but if I want my team to play, to have fantasy, from the first minute until the last, then Rivera is the only player who can give that to me,” said Rocco with his trademark Trieste twang. “I don’t want to exaggerate, because at the end of the day this is only football, but Rivera is a genius.”

Rivera was undoubtedly class personified, a player ahead of his time with vision, finesse, as well as the hair and film star good looks to boot. "His neck is like that of a swan,” Giorgio Bocca once wrote. “His eyes and tuft belong to a rare and precious bird. When he is in full flow, he reminds me of a heron." Fellow writer Gianni Mottana added: "He doesn’t touch the ball. He brushes it. He even seems to float over the ground when he runs."

Rivera, the son of a railway worker, was not universally loved though. As with so many gifted players who preceded and followed him, he was one of the most contentious footballers that Italian football has ever produced.

Although once given a nine out of 10 by famed journalist Gianni Brera for his performance in a Bologna-Milan tie, the scribe was Rivera’s biggest critic. He baptised him as Abatino, a young priest, to signify that Rivera was a luxury and too weak for the game at the time. “Rivera is a great stylist,” Brera argued. “He’s an intelligent footballer which allows him to make the right decisions, but he doesn’t run. In my opinion, he is a great half-player.”

Fortunately, style defeated substance when in 1969 Rivera was awarded the Golden Ball and named European Footballer of the Year. He’d already come close in 1963 when he was runner-up to Russian goalkeeper Lev Yashin, but he would triumph six years later when he pipped Cagliari and Italy teammate Gigi Riva to the prize by just four votes.

“For me, it was perhaps the most important thing I won,” Rivera stated. “The Scudetti and the European Cups were significant, but they were won with the team. This honour was particularly special because of the way it was structured given the involvement of so many people. Saying that it was indispensable to be involved in European competition with my club.”

The European Cup Final of 1969 was undoubtedly a vital component in his personal victory. Playing against an Ajax team which included the emerging Johan Cruyff, Rivera set up two of Pierino Prati’s hat-trick in a 4-1 demolition. The first assist was with a visionary back-heel, the second a perfectly weighted cross which had goal written all over it as it poetically glided through the air.
Milan ended that campaign second in Serie A, but finished the year as world champions after a 4-2 win over Estudiantes.
While Rivera never enjoyed the success he deserved for the Italian national side, where he suffered the so-called staffetta – relay – with Sandro Mazzola, he was an institution with the Rossoneri for almost two decades.
He ended his career in 1979, after 501 games for the club, by winning his third League championship as Milan lifted Lo Scudetto della Stella – the gold star title. It was a worthy ending for a player who was undoubtedly worthy of the Golden Ball, no matter what Brera thought of him.

The 1969 Golden Ball podium
Gianni Rivera (Milan) 83 points
Gigi Riva (Cagliari) 79 points
Gerd Muller (Bayern Munich) 38 points
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