Former Cosmos, Lazio star Giorgio Chinaglia dies

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ROME (AP) — Former New York Cosmos star Giorgio Chinaglia died of complications from a heart attack Sunday. The Italian soccer great was 65.

Chinaglia died at his home in Naples, Fla., his son, Anthony, said through family friend Charlie Stillitano, who was Chinaglia's co-host on a Sirius XM radio show.

Chinaglia was the all-time leading scorer in the North American Soccer League after starring with the Italian club Lazio. He scored 262 goals in his eight seasons with the Cosmos that began in 1976.

Lazio also announced the death. Chinaglia lived in the U.S. since facing accusations in Rome of involvement in an organized crime group that allegedly tried to buy Lazio in 2006.

Chinaglia helped Lazio win its first Italian title in 1974 and later became the club's president. He played for Italy at the 1974 World Cup.

With the Cosmos, he played alongside Pele and Franz Beckenbauer. He was the power scorer in a lineup that featured the finesse of Pele and the calculating play of Beckenbauer.

"I am a finisher. That means when I finish with the ball, it is in the back of the net," Chinaglia said in 1978.

In 2000, he was inducted into the United States Soccer Hall of Fame and chosen the greatest player in Lazio's history during the club's centenary celebrations.

"Both myself and the entire city of Rome express profound condolences," Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno said in a statement. "For Lazio fans Chinaglia was more than a symbol. He was a banner player that carried along an entire generation of fans and the emblem of the first title in 1974. And that's how we remember him.

"We know that for years he was no longer a resident in Italy, but we're available for the family for any type of initiative they want to organize to remember him," Alemanno added.

Chinaglia was born in Tuscany, but his family soon moved to Wales, where he began his soccer career with Swansea.

Chinaglia returned to Italy with the small Tuscan club Massese in 1966 and eventually joined Lazio in 1969, going on to score 98 goals in 209 matches for the Roman team. Italian fans nicknamed him Long John for his Welsh past.

Chinaglia had been co-hosting "The Football Show" on Sirius XM since 2006.

"Giorgio was one of soccer's legendary figures and we're honored and grateful to have had him as a part of the SiriusXM family," the satellite radio company said in a statement. "All those who love the sport and listened to him share his stories and incredible knowledge of the game are better for the experience. He will be missed."

Fabio Capello, who recently resigned as England coach and was a teammate of Chinaglia's with Italy's national team, said that "Giorgione remained close to me even after we stopped playing. He was a real friend to me."

Capello recalled how Chinaglia contributed to his famous goal against England at Wembley in 1973.

"It began with his run down the right. I put the ball in but thinking about it now really doesn't interest me," Capello said, according to the ANSA news agency. "My memory now is of the calls he made to me recently to interview me. He always handled himself well with me. I've lost a person dear to me."

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