Italian Giorgio Chinaglia, who was the all-time leading scorer in the North American Soccer League, died Sunday of complications from a heart attack at his
home in Naples, Fla.
The New York Cosmos had other great players like Pele, Franz Beckenbauer and Johan Neeskens, but Chinaglia was in many ways the Cosmos, its leader from his arrival in 1976 until its collapse in 1985.
He played in Italy for Lazio, which he led its first Serie A title in 1974, the same year he represented the Azzurri at the World Cup.
Chinaglia, who was born in Carrara, Italy, but moved to Wales when he was 8, was married to an American woman and moved to the United States in 1976 to play for the Cosmos, who had signed Pele a year earlier.
The Cosmos took off in 1977 when they moved to Giants Stadium and won four titles (1977, 1978, 1980 and 1982) during Chinaglia's nine seasons in the NASL.
He led the NASL in scoring four straight seasons with 34, 26, 32 and 29 goals during the 1978-81 seasons and finished with 242 goals in 254 matches.
Chinaglia, who was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2000, was close with Steve Ross, who was CEO of Cosmos owner Warner Communications, and had great sway in team matters.
After his retirement, Chinaglia remained involved in soccer. He promoted international matches with Charlie Stillitano, and they co-hosted a soccer show on a Sirius XM radio show.
Chinaglia had an arrest warrant out for him in Italy in connection with an extortion probe involving Lazio.