It is very sad to record the recent death of Giorgio Chinaglia who played briefly for the Swans during the mid 1960s before going on to become one of the most well-known players in the history of the game. Here is a short article about Girogio written by Steve Hamer who was Chairman of the Swans between 1997 and 2000. Thanks Steve for taking the time to write this interesting piece.
THE MOST FAMOUS FOOTBALLER EVER TO PLAY FOR THE SWANS
Little did I realise that when I attended the home Vetch Field game on Tuesday 14th September 1965 I would be watching probably the most famous footballer in the world ever to don a Swans shirt playing in what would be his last full game for the Club. The opponents that evening in Division 3 were the mighty Workington Town who included in their side former Swan Dixie Hale in midfield, Dixie went on to run the game and played like Beckenbauer with Workington sweeping all before them that night winning 1-6 resplendent in an all sky blue kit. The legendary centre forward Kit Napier helped himself to 4 goals in the game encouraging Newcastle United to lay out £35,000 for his transfer later in the season.
The Swans side that night wasn’t the worst to grace the Club and included full Internationals Ivor Allchurch, Willie Humphries and Jimmy McLaughlin along with a tall round shouldered coltish 18 year old called Giorgio Chinaglia who played up front alongside later in his career, a full Welsh International with Arsenal, John Roberts. His performance to say the least was disappointing and when your kicking off every 10 minutes in the game naturally dispiriting as a player, coupled with an attitude problem off the field, Giorgio was not old school Manager Glyn Davies’s cup of tea and was shown the door after one more substitute appearance against Brentford, a game in which he turned up for 10 minutes before kick off !
However, his father a Cardiff cafe owner sent him back to Italy where he joined Serie C side Massese before he progressed to Serie A with Lazio, a transfer which cost them £145,000 and the full Italian national team, famously creating the winning goal at Wembley for Fabio Capello to score in November 1973, giving Italy their first ever victory at Wembley, just eight years after he was shown the door at Swansea. From there on in, it was fame and fortune in New York where he literally took the USA by storm scoring 242 goals in 254 games for the New York Cosmos in the NASL and becoming one of the most famous sportsmen in the United States during the eighties playing alongside Pele and Beckenbauer. Following his footballing career he pursued a career in football broadcasting before recently reuniting with the Cosmos in preparation for their re-emergence in the MSL in 2014.
As a post script Swansea Town played the return match against Workington Town just twenty days later and lost that game 7-0, a game that fortunately I wasn’t at and Girogio had been cast aside in the reserves. Apparently Dixie Hale invited all his former team mates back to his house in Workington for a very good party after that game. I’m not surprised Swansea had managed just 1 goal and conceded 13 in two games against a team bordering on frontier country in the footballing world !
An excellent article on Giorgio Chinaglia written by Mario Risoli appeared in the Western Mail on 3 April. Mario Risoli is the author of Arrivederci Swansea: The Giorgio Chinaglia Story, published by Mainstream Publishing.