Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
He was simply Giorgio Chinaglia
by Dan Woog, April 3rd, 2012 12:15AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ
TAGS:  new york cosmos

MOST COMMENTED

[MY VIEW] It was a surreal scene, one I've never forgotten. And it's tough to describe, because it sounds like I'm making the whole thing up.

In the late 1970s, the New York Cosmos were the most famous franchise in the entire sports world. A pro soccer team with superstars like Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto — and Giorgio Chinaglia — they were glamour personified.

Mick Jagger, Henry Kissinger and a host of other boldface names followed them like groupies.

They sold out the 77,000-seat Meadowlands for every game — and did the same in Russia, China, South Africa, or anywhere else on the planet they played.

On November 20, 1977 — a couple of months after winning the NASL championship — they showed up at Green’s Farms Academy.

They were part of a “Soccer Spectacular.” There were clinics, a couple of games involving private schools — and the Cosmos, playing an exhibition match.

They didn’t just wander in off I-95, of course. Jay Emmett — the No. 2 man at Warner Communications, which owned the club — lived a mile away, on Prospect Road. The club’s PR director was Mark Brickley, a Staples High School grad just 3 years out of Union College.

Still, it would have been like the New York Giants showing up this weekend to toss the football around.

I don’t remember much about that game. But what I do remember is Giorgio Chinaglia — the team’s leading scorer, an international star, a man who broke Italy’s heart when he left to play in America — weaving elegantly and effortlessly up and down the Green’s Farms Academy field.

Wearing sweatpants.

He never took off his warmups. He played the entire match that way.

And before the game, at halftime, and after, Giorgio Chinaglia stood on the sidelines, smoking cigarettes.

He was not trying to show disdain for the fans, the setting or the game. That was simply Chinaglia’s way. It was the rest of the league — some of his teammates, even — hated him. Even as he drew attention to the Cosmos, the league, and the entire sport.

In 1977 I was in the early stages of my writing career, and covering the Cosmos was a plum job. I saw many Meadowlands matches, and others around North America. In the locker room afterward, Chinaglia’s legs would be bruised, from hip to ankle. It was the price he paid, as a goal scorer. He took plenty of hits — who said soccer isn’t a contact sport? — but he never complained. He just sat there on a stool after matches, answering questions he thought deserved responses, staring imperiously at sportswriters he thought were imbeciles.

And smoking cigarettes.

Giorgio Chinaglia died yesterday in Florida, of a heart attack. He was 65 years old.

He wasn’t the best role model, as anyone at Green’s Farms Academy that day 35 years ago could see.

Then again, he never pretended to be. He was simply Giorgio Chinaglia.

(This article first appeared in Dan Woog's blog, 06880 Where Westport meets the World.)





No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Sebastian Saucedo strikes twice as U.S. U-20s advance     
The USA moved into the second stage of the men's Concacaf U-20 Championship with a 4-1 ...
Roster: U.S. U-23 women head to Spain    
The U.S. U-23 women's national team will play Japan (March 2), England (March 4) and Norway ...
USWNT: No Klingenberg, no A-Rod for SheBelieves Cup    
U.S. women's national team head coach Jill Ellis has named the 23-player roster for the 2017 ...
Report: UCL headed to Turner and Univision in 2018    
Turner Sports and Univision have snatched the U.S. media rights to the UEFA Champions League away ...
U.S. Soccer: U-17 and U-20 women's coaches to be replaced    
B.J. Snow is no longer U.S. U-17 girls national team coach and Michelle French is out ...
U.S. Abroad: Johnson's M'Gladbach pulls miracle comeback    
Fabian Johnson came off the bench for Borussia Moenchengladbach as it came back from 2-0 down ...
Sneak Peek: Potent Impact seeks resiliency and depth    
Last year Montreal stunned Red Bulls, 3-1, on aggregate and took a commanding lead against Toronto ...
What They're Saying: Perry Dealy    
"It's worth preserving because we don't have a lot of icons. It would save a lot ...
Sneak Peek: Vieira is convinced NYCFC will be improved    
In his first season, Patrick Vieira proved that a foreign coach unfamiliar with MLS could find ...
Sneak Peek: Timbers look as good as ever    
From MLS champion in 2015 to out of the playoffs in 2016, it was quite a ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives