Giovanni "Gianni" Rivera (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒanni riˈvɛːra]; born 18 August 1943, in Alessandria) is an Italian former football midfielder, who was mostly utilised as an attacking midfielder.
Dubbed Italy's "Golden Boy" by the media, he played the majority of his club career with Italian side A.C. Milan, after beginning his career with his hometown side Alessandria in 1959. After joining Milan in 1960, he enjoyed a highly successful career in domestic and European football, winning three Serie A titles and two European Cups, among several other trophies, and also serving as the team's captain for twelve seasons.
At international level, he represented Italy 60 times between 1962 and 1974, scoring 14 goals, and took part at four World Cups (1962, 1966, 1970, and 1974). Rivera is widely remembered for scoring the decisive goal in Italy's 4–3 extra-time win over West Germany in the semi-final of the 1970 World Cup, leading the team to final, only to suffer a 4–1 defeat against Brazil, however. Rivera was also a member of the first Italian side ever to win the European Football Championship in 1968, on home soil, and represented Italy at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, helping the team to a fourth-place finish.
Rivera was an elegant, efficient, and creative offensive playmaker, with an eye for goal, who possessed excellent vision and technical ability, and who was highly regarded for his footballing intelligence, leadership, correct behaviour, and class. He is widely considered to be one of the most talented offensive playmakers of all time, due to his passing accuracy and his adeptness at providing assists. Regarded as one of the best players of his generation, one of the greatest Italian footballers of all time, and by some as Italy's greatest player ever, he was awarded the Ballon d'Or in 1969, and placed 19th in IFFHS's election for the World Player of the 20th Century. In 2015, he became the first Italian footballer out of 100 athletes to be inducted into Italy's sports Walk of Fame. In 2004, Pelé chose Rivera as part of the FIFA 100 greatest living footballers, and he placed 35th in the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll.
After retiring from football in 1979, Rivera became Milan's vice-president, and later went into politics in 1986; he is currently a Member of the European Parliament for the Uniti nell'Ulivo party. In 2013, he was appointed the President of the educational youth sector by the FIGC for the Italy national football team, along with Roberto Baggio and Arrigo Sacchi, under head coach Cesare Prandelli.