‘Golden Boy’ Rivera earns top coaching qualifications at 76
Rivera, a Ballon d’Or winner in 1969 and former Member of the European Parliament, was one of the “famous faces”, alongside 2006 World Cup winner Mauro Camoranesi, announced by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) to have gained the Italian equivalent of the UEFA Pro Licence, which enables him to coach in Italy’s top division.
“Rivera has helped write the history of football but he was still humble enough to become a student again. He was a brilliant student and didn’t miss a single lesson,” said Renzo Uliveri, head of the Italian coaching association AIAC, to the Gazzetta dello Sport on Wednesday.
“Where would I like to coach? It will depend on who calls me. Coaches are chosen, they are rarely the ones who choose,” Rivera told Rai Radio.
Gazzetta had suggested Rivera, who won the 1968 European Championship with Italy and two European Cups with Milan, was not interested in a top coaching role and simply wants to remain “up-to-date” with the football’s inner workings.
But he disputed that claim and insisted he was ready to coach if the opportunity arose.
“Of course. Otherwise I would not have sat the exams,” Rivera responded when asked about the possibility of taking charge of a club.
Nicknamed ‘Golden Boy’ in his pomp, Rivera scored 14 times for Italy, including the extra-time winner in the ‘Game of the Century’, the 4-3 semi-final win over West Germany at the 1970 World Cup.
Rivera played for Milan for nearly two decades, signing off in 1979 with his third Serie A title, before embarking on a long political career in the late 1980s, undertaking a series of roles in the Italian parliament including undersecretary for defence.
He was also an MEP between 2005 and 2009, and in 1968 was one of the founding members of the Italian Footballers’ Association (AIC).
Other big names to have gained the UEFA Pro licence include former Brazil midfielder Toninho Cerezo, now 64, and former Arsenal and Barcelona full-back Sylvinho.