Gigi Riva it was – among other things – also a missed Ballon d’Or. In his best years – from 1967 to 1970 – he ended up in the ranking four times in four consecutive years, but the competition was terrible – these were the years of George Best and Bobby Charlton, among the chosen ones appeared the young champions Beckenbauer and Cruijff – and In the end he walks away empty-handed. He has only ever experienced this trophy as a small, insidious attack on fate.

A rose between the fingers, Sardinia’s farewell to Gigi Riva

by our correspondent Maurizio Crosetti

Rather, it is a result of enormous importance when one considers that Rombo di Tuono owes the attention of the jurors by winning the European Championship solely to his performance in the blue jersey, scoring 22 goals in 21 games during this period (1968, edition won George Best, Gigi was sixth) and the World Cup final (1970) against Brazil and the epic 4:3 Italy-Germany. Cagliari – in the sentimental geography of an English or German journalist – is the outpost of an unknown world, an atoll among the great empires of European football.

Gigi Riva and Gianni Rivera in blue shirts

Gigi Riva and Gianni Rivera in blue shirts (frame)

Rivera wins with 4 votes

Riva came very close to victory in 1969, but narrowly missed it by four votes. It’s the edition that won Gianni Rivera, the first Italian to win the award announced by “France Football”. 83 to 79 votes, the German Gerd Müller took third place. Gigi has always suffered from it, with his lips tightened and his silence. Each journalist (26 since 1969) must provide five names in order of preference. Rivera is judged the best European player by 14 journalists, Riva by 10. Gianni is present in nineteen of the twenty-six top five, Gigi surpasses him in 20:20 nominations, a lot if we consider that the factor that has an influence is the is leaving its mark on the international field. Seven months earlier, Rivera won the European Cup with Milan, Riva was the top scorer in Serie A, but that wasn’t enough. The overall score rewards the AC Milan player with 10th place.

Affection, sea and silence: this is how Cagliari protected Gigi Riva, the son who came from the north

by Mario Frongia

The mockery

In this 1969 edition there was a happy moment for Italian football: the Rossoneri Prati (8th) and Sormani (15th) also entered the ranking. Riva is silent, he is too shocked. Rivera emphasizes the quality of our movement: “It was time for them to notice us.” The Ballon d’Or – mockery of mockery – is awarded to him in Cagliari, crossed fates of a calendar in which Milan is right in the end of December Gigi Riva’s house is busy (this game ends 1-1, Riva scores, Rivera plays 90). Minutes anonymous, Cagliari consolidates its lead in the standings). Rivera will remember: “This thing never went down well with him.”

Gigi Riva, the punishments in Berlin in 2006 for smoking in the toilet and the accident in the Rolls due to an argument with Gina Lollobrigida

by Emanuela Audisio

The Scudetto with Cagliari and the injury

The following year was the fateful year of 1970, Gigi Riva’s legendary season. Between spring and summer, Rombo di Tuono won the historic championship with Cagliari, then fame flattered him in Mexico. But on October 31, he reluctantly handed over his right fibula to his home country, again in blue, as happened in 1967, this time in Vienna, during the Austria-Italy game after a foul by defender Norbert Hof. And he lost two months of that championship. This also punished him in the verdict of the jurors of the 1970 edition, who had this final score: 1. Gerd Müller with 77 votes, 2. the Englishman Bobby Moore with 69 and 3. Gigi Riva with 65. And Rivera? He takes 10th place, also surpassed by his bitter rival Sandro Mazzola (7th). Three times on the podium, like Rivera, Maldini and Baggio. In the years that followed, Riva commented on missing out on the trophy as follows: “The 1970 Ballon d’Or was promised to me, but after the injury in October I realized that I no longer had any hope.”