Pelé was given a farewell befitting of a King during his last match with the New York Cosmos. After playing 45 minutes in the iconic Cosmos shirt, the organization honored the Brazilian playmaker at halftime, retiring his jersey in front of the Giants Stadium faithful before he donned the shirt of Santos for the final 45 minutes of the match.
Giorgio Chinaglia was not afforded such a luxury — and the modern-day Cosmos will look to correct that.
“There are two legacy players in the history of the Cosmos,” New York Cosmos COO Erik Stover said in an interview on SiriusXM radio. “[There were] loads of legendary players like [Franz] Beckenbauer and Carlos Alberto, but but there are two absolute legacy players and that’s Pele and Giorgio Chinaglia.
“To honor that legacy, we will be retiring his jersey, putting him alongside Pele’s number 10. We will have number nine hanging in the stadium.”
The ceremony will take place prior to the Cosmos’ final match of the Spring season, Sunday, June 8th at 5 p.m. against the Ottawa Fury.
The team alluded to retiring Chinaglia’s number in the start-up to the Fall Championship season last year. Instead, Giorgio Chinaglia Jr. helped usher in the new era with Pelé and other past team luminaries on opening day.
Along with Pele, Chinaglia was a star attraction with the original Cosmos, scoring 193 goals in 213 appearances with the club. His greatest season came in 1980, when he scored 76 goals in 66 matches for the club across all competitions.
“I don’t know of another player who scored more goals than games played on a club,” Stover said. “He did that for us.”
The ceremony will be the pinnacle of a week-long celebration. A possible “old-timers” game may precede the Ottawa encounter, with a formal gala event possible as well.
“We have been working closely with the family since we brought the club back,” Stover said. “It’s the least we could do.”