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Luigi “Gigi” Riva is dead. © FIGC

Italy legend Gigi Riva is dead

Italian football is in mourning. Luigi “Gigi” Riva died on Monday evening in Cagliari. Squadra Azzurra's all-time top goalscorer was 79 years old.

While the Supercup final was underway in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), news spread in Italy that Riva had died. With 35 goals, the Lombard native is not only the Italian national team's top scorer, but also an icon of Cagliari Calcio. Riva was 79 years old and had been in cardiology at the “San Michele” hospital in Cagliari since Sunday evening.

Riva's death comes as a surprise. He was said to be in a stable condition by the afternoon, the hospital said in a press release. At around 19.30 p.m. Riva's condition is said to have deteriorated drastically before he finally died in the evening.

A life for football

Riva has scored 35 goals (in 42 games) for Italy. He leads the national team's goalscoring list ahead of Giuseppe Meazza (33), Silvio Piola (30), Roberto Baggio and Alessandro Del Piero (both 27). Although Riva was born in northern Italy, he spent almost his entire life in Sardinia. In the summer of 1963 he moved from Legnano to Cagliari and never left the club. Riva played 374 games for the Sardinians and scored 207 goals.

Gigi Riva with national players Fabio Cannavaro and Gianluigi Buffon at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. © APA/afp / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU

In 1970, Riva won the Scudetto with Cagliari. It remained the only one in the club's history. The striker was then courted by the big northern clubs (Juventus and Inter), but rejected the call of money. From that moment on, his legendary status in Cagliari was cemented. In 1976 he ended his career with a home game against Milan. It's not hard to guess that Riva is also Cagliari's record goalscorer. His shirt number 11 is no longer available in Cagliari.

Even after his career, the “Sardin from Lombardy” stayed on the island. Riva worked in the management of Cagliari, was briefly president of the club and was awarded honorary membership. At the 1994 and 2006 World Cups he looked after the national team as team manager.

Schlagwörter: Soccer Italy Gigi Riva

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