“My father passed away this morning at 09;30 hrs” said Anthony Chinaglia, the son of former Lazio player and legend, Giorgio “Long John” Chinalia, announcing and making official the death of his father Giorgio. The cause of death was heart attack.
On 1 April 2012, this news took Lazio, its fans and overall football fanatics by complete surprise. In particular the older generation of Lazio fans who were lucky enough to have seen him in action live [not me unfortunately]. But, who was Giorgio Chinaglia and why is he so important for la SS Lazio and its history. I will summarize in this article the information I managed to gather from different sources.
Born on , 24 January 1947 in Carrara (Region of Tuscany-Italy) but in 1955 along with his family moved to Cardiff (Wales). The supposed reason was the high unemployment in Italy following a devastating World War II.
He started playing football professionally with Swansea Town in 1964. He was however later for training, had a somewhat messy life and at the end, he was released to move to a free transfer and return to Italy, in Division C. There was lack of interest for him among British teams, but also, he had a compulsory military service to attend to in Italy. After that, he signed for a team called Massese near his home. Following that, he moved to another Division C club called Internapoli from Naples.
But, his genuine career of a footballer begins in 1969 when he moves to Lazio. In is in this club that he gains the recognition he would enjoy throughout his career. With Lazio, he wins a historic Serie A title in the season 1973-74. He becomes a Lazio legend scoring 98 goals in 209 appearances. He got called for the Italian NT in FIFA World Cup 1974, but had a bust up with the coach after her go subbed in the first match and never played again.
In 1976, he moved to the United Stated to play for New York Cosmos, alongside Pele, Beckenbauer and Carlos Ablerto. Lazio fans were so emotional about him that Chinaglia had to fly to USA from Niza, as Lazio fans blocked his departure. In the US, he scored 242 goals in 254 matches making the NASL Hall of Fame.
In 1983 he returned to Lazio, but was forced to leave the club due to economic problems.
Chinaglia was named as one of nine people for whom arrest warrants had been issued on Friday 13 October 2006 following an extortion probe linked to shares in his former club Lazio. Authorities arrested seven suspects related to an illegal attempt to purchase the Lazio football club with laundered funds. The laundered funds are believed to be part of the activities of the Casalesi clan – a group of the Naples-based Camorra crime syndicate. Chinaglia was not among those arrested.
This would be in short the life of Giorgo Chinaglia. RIP Long John.
[Lazio vs Napoli-7 April 2012 – Lazio fans waving goodbye to Giorgio]