The soccer fraternity has bid farewell to many greats of the game, with global icons such as German soccer legend Franz Beckenbauer, England icon Sir Bobby Charlton, and Argentine great Diego Maradona passing away. Now, the Italian legend Gigi Riva joins the list of soccer luminaries who have left us.
Italy has produced many soccer greats over the decades, and one of them was the veteran striker Gigi Riva, who passed away at the age of 79 on Monday. He holds the title of the all-time top scorer for the Italian national men’s team and the club Cagliari Calcio.
Gigi Riva passes away at 79 due to heart attack
Gigi Riva was being treated for suspected cardiac issues while bedridden at his home in Sardinia. Later, he was admitted to the cardiology unit at Brotzu Hospital over the weekend. At 79 years old, Riva was serving as the honorary president of Cagliari.
Initially, his condition was reported as non-critical, and he was in stable condition. However, it deteriorated quickly, and the legendary forward died due to cardiac arrest on Monday in the hospital, as the reports revealed.
Following his passing, FIGC President Gabriele Gravina expressed, “I am shaken and deeply saddened. Italian football is in mourning because a true national monument has left us.”
He is fondly remembered for being part of Italy’s Euro triumph in 1968 and the runner-up team in the 1970 World Cup against Pele’s Brazil. The Italian Football Federation has announced that a minute of silence will be observed before kick-off in all leagues and competitions played on the weekends.
Gigi Riva, nicknamed ‘Rombo di Tuono’ (the Rumble of Thunder) for his goal-scoring prowess, proudly represented his country at the highest level of the sport. He dedicated his entire club career to Cagliari, where he was hailed as a hero and an icon.
Highlights of Gigi Riva’s remarkable career
Gigi Riva enjoyed a distinguished career during his playing days, earning acclaim for his goal-scoring prowess. He retains the distinction of being Italy’s all-time leading goal-scorer even today. Throughout his active years on the field, he was one of the poster boys of Italian soccer and finished as the runner-up in the Ballon d’Or Award in 1969.
At the club level, he exclusively played for Cagliari, making 374 appearances and scoring 205 goals. He clinched the Serie A top-scorer title in three seasons, notably during the 1969-70 season when he scored 21 goals, guiding his team to its inaugural and sole Italian title.
For the Azzurri, Gigi Riva accumulated 42 caps for the national team, registering an impressive 35 goals. Following his retirement, Riva contributed to the success of the 2006 World Cup-winning Azzurri side as part of the backroom staff. His involvement extended to various roles at Cagliari, where he also served as the club’s manager from 1978 to 1986.