Soccer Legends

Cosmos legend Chinaglia dies


Former New York Cosmos and Lazio legend Giorgio Chinaglia has died due to complications from a recent heart attack. He was 65.

Chinaglia was a star among stars on the New York Cosmos, having joined the NASL after a storied career with Italian club Lazio. He finished his NASL career with a league-record 242 goals. He starred alongside Pele and Franz Beckenbauer on the high-profile Cosmos teams of the 70s and 80s.

Chinaglia made 14 appearances for the Italian national team, scoring four goals.

A mainstay in the New York/New Jersey area long after his playing days were over, and most recently had been co-hosting a radio soccer show with former MetroStars president Charlie Stillitano.

I will remember Giorgio as a passionate defender and lover of the sport of soccer who was an outstanding player and equally passionate fan of the game. His contribution to the sport in this country is tough to measure, but he absolutely had a major impact that should not be forgotten.

What memories do you have of Chinaglia? Did you have the chance to see him as a player? Did you listen to his radio show?

Share your thoughts on Chinaglia in the comments section below.

  • Allan

    Wow. Shocking news. I listen to The Football Show every morning on Sirius/XM. Never say him play. Heard he was amazing. Never agreed with anything he said on the American game, but will be missed. 😦


  • mojo44

    He was on air most of last week, but sounded awful, but they made it sound like the flu or something. I sure didn’t always agree with him, but will be missed on my daily comute.


  • John

    I saw Giorgio play here in Toronto in the late 1970s when I was a teenager and he pulled a move on a Blizzard defender at the top of the box that completely undressed him and he fired the ball in the net from 18 yards out. He still had the moves late in his career. He was a great player and soccer man.


  • OT

    Some of the most radical MLS fans (including some who have never seen Chinaglia play) have Chinaglia at the top of their most HATED list.


    Chinaglia committed the #1 sin of promoting a rival series of summer friendlies against MLS/SUM.


  • chris

    Wow. Sad news. Sad that most people know him more for the viewpoints he expressed and not from his play during his career. He came off as being pompous (to say the least), but his play backed it up. Like everyone, didn’t agree with a lot of what he said (kinda like most of the great talents), but still could appreciate his passion.


  • supergrandefilms

    Saw him play when I was a kid in Fort Lauderdale supporting the Strikers. He was always dangerous, constantly a threat and had such great technical skill. Very sad to hear about his passing. He was also a wonderful ambassador of the sport and certainly a pioneer for soccer in the United States during the early years. RIP Giorgio.


  • Mark

    I was fortunate enough to follow his career during the late 70s. Growing up outside of Rochester NY I had to root against him, which was really infuriating because the guy had a knack for scoring big goals.

    Regardless of what you say about his opinions about the game in this country, you can’t overlook the impact he had here as well. A loss to the American soccer scene.


  • Josh

    I was too young to have seen him play, so my knowledge of him comes from the “Once in a Lifetime” doc and various articles over the years. While Chinaglia could apparently be a very difficult person, and one who made a number of questionable business decisions, he was unquestionably a great soccer player.

    Condolences to his friends and loved ones.


  • Older & Wiser

    Great player to watch. He was a true striker who played with his back to the goal, could create seperation in an instant and had quite a shot. Used to love watching him play for the Cosmos at the old Giant Stadium. RIP.


  • Michael F

    Shocked and sad. Never knew he had a radio show. I watched him as a kid play for the Cosmos in Giants stadium. He was my hero. I remember fans in the stands fighting as they argued about him being either lazy to the best. I was too young to join the fracus but knew where I stood: He was the best ever. RIP, Giorgio.


  • Pete

    Agree w/ Michael F. Grew up having been impacted by his knack for scoring goals. Though not as respected by folks older than me (who “knew more than me”), he left an impact on me. I remember meeting him once after a game outside the locker room as we were invited by family members of his who we were friends with, like any starry eyed youth looking up to role models, he was that for many budding american cosmos/soccer fans wanting to make it “big”. RIP


  • Winky

    In the 70s when I was a teenager, I went to all the Cosmos games… even the ones at Hofstra, Randalls Island and Yankee Stadium before Chinaglia came. Randy Horton, Siggy Stritzel, Werner Roth and Pele were my heroes. Then came Chinaglia with his scoring prowess. He turned the Cosmos into NASL champions and I was exhilarated. As I became a bit older and smarter in the 80s, I realized Giorgio was a very arrogant and destructive person. I guess it was no accident that he almost single-handedly ruined the Cosmos with his petty grievances and political manipulation (see the movie Once In A Lifetime for more on this). So on the one hand he obviously loved the game and I am sad that he has died. On the other hand his passing has reminded me of the ambiguous type of person he was. Maybe it is fitting that he died on April 1.


  • KevDC

    Saw him play many times with the Cosmos. He was electrifying on the pitch…bigger than life. I’ll always recall my times watching him fondly.

    RIP #9.


  • Tony

    RIP Giorgio . . . as a long time Ft. Laud Striker fan all I can say is that Giorgio did us in . . . I am sure he is in a better place still scoring on Jan Van Beveren!!! Those two guys defined so much of my childhood!!!


  • Eric

    Giorgio was by far the most prolific scorer in the NASL. He came to the US at the urging of Cosmos owner Steve Ross to bring soccer to higher levels. Still remember back pages of the Daily News with pictures of soccer, not baseball, when the Cosmos were outdrawing the Mets and Yankees.

    Thanks Giorgio ! You wont be forgotten.


  • Sabella

    Michael F, I echo your sentiments. As a kid, I saw him many times at Giants Stadium. He was my first soccer hero for sure. The guy was a legend. I actually think he was both lazy and the best. He was just one of those pure goal scorers who you thought was dogging it on the pitch and with the blink of an eye, he puts the ball in the back of the net.


  • Brain Guy

    Giorgio was a force of nature on the dominant Cosmos teams of the 70s. A big-time striker with great strength and a wicked shot. I was too young then to understand or even be interested the rumors about his control/manipulation of the Cosmos, and I never really plugged into his more recent exploits in soccer commentary, so my lasting memory of him will be a terrific, terrific goal-scorer who arrived here from Italy with a great reputation and was every bit as good as advertised. Pele put the Cosmos on the map for the general public, but Chinaglia was probably even more important to the team’s success on the field. Simply put, the greatest scorer in NASL history.


  • Charles

    I remember hating him…..if he had been a Sounder I probably would have thought different. He was a character and was ALWAYS talked about back then. Partly because he could really play.


  • Neumannator

    Very sorry to hear of his passing. He was everything a great striker needs to be: aggressive, confident, arrogant and extremely talented. My dad would drag me and my brother from Philly to Giants Stadium to watch 5-6 games a year on top of the Fury games. So glad he did. Giorgio was a massive personality and we all tried to be like him when we played in the neighborhood. RIP.


  • Doug

    Saw him in person many times and he rarely failed to score. I also remember the late, great Nick Charles interviewing him on the old CNN Sports Tonight program. Both gone far too soon.


  • Kasey

    I saw him play in the Kingdome many of times.. the guy lived to disappoint those who jeered him


  • Go Cosmos!

    He lived hard and played hard. His death makes me think of George Best. It’s always sad when someone passes away, but the way he went about life, Giorgio probably lived 10 years longer than he was supposed to.

    RIP to the greatest goal scorer to every play in the United States.


  • Bill

    Like he said on his radio program with Charlie. “Give me the ball and the ball will be in the back of the net.” RIP to one of the greatest goal scorers ever. Saw him play with the Cosmos many times in person and on TV. Scored 98 goals in 209 games for Lazio – basically a goal every other game. The all-time leading scorer in the NASL with 262 goals in his eight seasons with the Cosmos. A superb talent!


  • Johnny Ramone

    There was no better pure goalscore in the NSASL (or MLS for that matter) than Giorgio. The greatest.


  • Since 82

    I will never forget his bursts of exuberance after putting the ball in the back of the net. As a young kid watching from the Cosmos from the upper deck of Giants Stadium, that was where my passion for the beautiful game began to take root. Giorgio had a hand in that. RIP # 9


  • Older & Wiser

    I hate to admit that I said no (it was raining) when my buddies went to a Summer evening game at Giant Stadium. I ended up listening to the game on the radio and unless my memory is failing, Chinaglia scored 7 goals in that one game. I was kicking myself for not having gone.


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