Where are they now?: Gianni Rivera

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The Independent Online
FLUSH with expensive foreign imports, the current all-conquering Milan have produced no Italian star to challenge the magnitude of Gianni Rivera.

Signed from Alessandria, his home town club, for a record pounds 65,000, Rivera made his Milan debut in 1960 aged 16. Though physically frail, he grew to dominate their midfield, his passes paving the way to European Cup triumphs against Benfica in 1963 and, as captain, against Ajax in 1969. His goal in the 4-3 semi-final against West Germany sent Italy into the final of the 1970 World Cup, providing one of his 60 international caps.

Now 50, Rivera has made a mark as a politician. 'In 1987, a group of friends asked me if I would stand as a candidate and I agreed to do so,' he said. Elected in Milan originally for the now-fragmented Christian Democrat party, he represents a small centrist group today - opponents, ironically, of the right-wing Forza Italia which recently swept Silvio Berlusconi, Milan's president, to power.

Devoutly Catholic, Rivera has been an anti-drugs campaigner and spoke out against corruption during preparations for the Italia '90 World Cup. 'Unfortunately, there is little I can do now because the right has won and I am in opposition.'

Vice-president of Milan until 1986, Rivera counts himself 'a great fan' but has been critical of Berlusconi, suggesting, in 1992, that the Italian football federation should check Milan's growth. 'In sport you should be superior because of your skills,' he said. 'If you get there because of greater economic power, something is wrong.'

(Photograph omitted)