Former Juventus FC hero and European Footballer of the Year Omar Sivori has died aged 69.
Born in San Nicolas, Argentina, Sivori won three domestic titles with CA River Plate before joining Juventus in 1957 for a fee of 160m Lira (about €80,000). An inside-left, he played for eight season with Juventus, scoring 171 goals in 257 games. Nicknamed 'El Cabezón' ('Headstrong') he formed a fantastic attacking partnership with Welsh striker John Charles, who died last year.
Giampiero Boniperti, the former Juventus president who once played in the same team, said: "Playing alongside him was pure fun. Charles was the target man, while Omar used the space to put defenders in trouble. He used to play with socks down around his ankles, without any kind of protection, to show he wasn't scared of defenders. He had an incredible winning mentality."
Sivori won the Italian title three times with Juventus, in 1958, 1960 and 1961, as well as a hat-trick of Coppa Italia triumphs in 1959, 1960 and 1965. He was also Serie A's top scorer in 1959/60 with 28 goals. In 1961 he claimed the Ballon d'Or as European Footballer of the Year, and the following year scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory against Real Madrid CF as Juventus became the first Italian side to win at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium.
Thanks to his dual Argentinian and Italian citizenship, Sivori was able to play international football for both countries. He made 18 appearances for Argentina before moving to Europe, and went on to play nine times for Italy, scoring eight goals and representing the Azzurri at the 1962 FIFA World Cup in Chile.
In 1965 he moved to SSC Napoli, where he played until retiring in 1969. After hanging up his boots, he returned to Argentina to coach River Plate and the national team before becoming a full-time scout for Juventus in South America. It is his association with the Bianconeri for which he will best be remembered, and Marcello Lippi recalled: "Whenever we were talking about Juventus, his eyes brightened up."
"He was like an older brother for me," said Juventus vice-president Roberto Bettega. "He was my idol when I was a kid and then we became close friends. He was one of the best players in the history of football." Sivori had been suffering from cancer.