Omar Sívori

Omar Sívori
Sívori with the Argentina national team in 1956
Personal information
Full name Enrique Omar Sívori
Date of birth (1935-10-02)2 October 1935
Place of birth San Nicolás, Argentina
Date of death 17 February 2005(2005-02-17) (aged 69)
Place of death San Nicolás, Argentina
Height 1.63 m (5 ft 4 in)
Playing position Forward
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1954–1957 River Plate 63 (29)
1957–1965 Juventus 215 (135)
1965–1969 Napoli 63 (12)
Total 341 (176)
National team
1956–1957 Argentina 19 (9)
1961–1962 Italy 9 (8)
Teams managed
1969–1970 Rosario Central
1972 Estudiantes de La Plata
1972–1973 Argentina
1979 Racing Club de Avellaneda
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Enrique Omar Sívori (2 October 1935 – 17 February 2005) was an Italian Argentine football player and manager who played as a forward. At club level, he is known for his successful time with Italian side Juventus during the late 1950s and early 1960s, where he won three Serie A titles among other trophies; he also played for River Plate in Argentina and Napoli in Italy.

At international level, he first appeared for the Argentine national team, winning the Copa América in 1957. Later in his career, he played for the Italian national team and took part in some of the 1962 World Cup. After his retirement as player, he coached several teams in Argentina, including the national side.

Regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation and as one of the greatest football players of all time, Sívori was known for his outstanding skill, speed, goalscoring ability, technique, and his footballing talent was widely acclaimed. He won the Copa América Best Player award in 1957[1] and the coveted European Footballer of the Year award in 1961.

Club career

River Plate

Sívori was born in San Nicolás de los Arroyos, a town which falls within the Buenos Aires Province, in an Italian Argentine family. His paternal grandfather, Giulio Sivori, was an immigrant from Cavi di Lavagna, a hamlet in the province of Genoa, while his mother Carolina was of Abruzzian descent.[2][3][4] As a youngster Sívori became heavily interested in the game of football and by the time he reached his teens he was signed up to a side from the city of Buenos Aires, River Plate.[2][5] The teenage Sívori was given a chance to break through into a squad which included players like the famed forwards Ángel Labruna and Félix Loustau who established themselves in the era of La Máquina, one of the foremost formations in football history.[6] He soon earned the nickname El Cabezón (bighead) from the fans, due to his hair, outspokenness, confidence, arrogance, and playing style.[2][6][7]

River was able to win the Argentine Primera División in 1955, the title was confirmed when River beat local archrival Boca Juniors 2–1 at La Bombonera, in Buenos Aires, with just one game remaining.[8] The same season River won the Copa Río de La Plata by beating Nacional from Uruguay. The following season he had similar success when River won the Argentine league title on the final day of the season; beating Rosario Central 4–0, with Sívori scoring the final goal.[9] Sívori would play his final game for River against the same team on 5 May 1957.

During the 1957–58 season, the 21-year-old Sívori was signed by Italian club Juventus after being spotted by Renato Cesarini. Juventus paid 10 million pesos (the equivalent of £91,000) for the transfer, which was a world-record transfer fee for the time. Sívori's move would prove bad for River's league fortunes, in the 18 years after 1957 they were unable to win the league in Argentina.[2][10] However, they were able to complete their El Monumental stadium (previously nicknamed the horseshoe) by adding a fourth stand bearing his name, with the money from the deal.[10]


The same season two other prominent Argentines moved to the Italian league: Antonio Valentín Angelillo (Inter) and Humberto Maschio (Bologna). The three were nicknamed The Angels with Dirty Faces by the media (an ironic reference to the then-celebrated Angels with Dirty Faces movie) on account of their typically South American colour and flair, and also The Trio of Death on account of their fearless playing style and clinical finishing.[2][11]

Prior to the arrival of Sívori and Welshman John Charles, Juventus had been going through somewhat of a slump. However, the duo along with experienced Juventino Giampiero Boniperti put together a formidable force and won Serie A during the 1957–58 season. Their good form continued and Sívori won two more scudetti (1959–60 and 1960–61) as well as two Coppa Italia titles (1958–59 and 1959–60), and the Coppa delle Alpi (1963). Omar Sívori's hard work had paid off and he was named European Footballer of the Year (also known as Ballon d'or) in 1961.[2][12][13]

The same year as his personal achievement however, "the Magical Trio" as they were known, had broken up with Boniperti's retirement and the following season John Charles moved back to Leeds United. Sívori stayed on with the Old Lady, notably scoring the only goal in a 1–0 victory against Real Madrid, making Juventus the first Italian side ever to win at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. Sívori wore the number 10 shirt[14] and was appointed the team's captain in 1963, but did not win anymore championships or trophies with Juventus, and left after the 1964–65 season, because of a disagreement with new coach Heriberto Herrera.[2][12][15]

With Juventus, Sívori scored 167 goals in 253 appearances in all competitions,[16] making him the club's fifth highest goalscorer ever as of 2011. He also holds the record for most Serie A goals in a single league match; during the 9–1 victory against Inter Milan on 10 June 1961 he scored six goals; this record is jointly shared with Silvio Piola of Pro Vercelli.[17]


In 1965 he signed with Napoli,[2] helping them to a third-place finish in the first season at the club, they also won the Coppa delle Alpi.[13] After two successful seasons at the club, during the 1967–68 season, Napoli's squad boasted several talents along with Sívori, such as goalkeeper Dino Zoff, and fellow strike partner José Altafini, and were considered one of the favourites to win the league title; the club took A.C. Milan all the way in the battle for the Serie A championship, but eventually finished in second place, while Sívori was ruled out for most of the season due to a knee injury and several clashes with manager Bruno Pesaola. Ironically, Sívori's last ever game for Napoli was against his former club Juventus, in which he was given a red card for kicking Erminio Favalli, and as a result, was suspended for six matches. Following his ban, Sívori decided to return to Argentina during the 1968–69 season.[18][19]

International career


At international level, Sívori represented the Argentina national football team eighteen times and registered nine goals.[16] The Argentine side of the time had a formidable attack with Sívori, Omar Oreste Corbatta, Osvaldo Cruz, Humberto Maschio and Antonio Angelillo. The attacking trio of Sívori, Maschio, and Angelillo were nicknamed the "caras sucias", which literally means "dirty faces" in Spanish; in reference to the film of the same name, and due to way they played the game, like fun, dirty faced, mischievous children.[2][7][20]

Sívori helped the Argentine national team win the 1957 South American Championship held in Lima, Peru. Argentina dominated in every game during that year's Copa América; the team's wins throughout the competition included an 8–2 victory against the Colombian national team, and a 3–0 victory against close rivals Brazil.


Following Sívori's move to Italy in 1957, along with his compatriots Maschio and Angelillo, the Argentine football association banned the attacking trio from playing for the Argentine national side, which meant that they were unable to take part in the 1958 World Cup.[7] Thanks to his Italian ancestry, however, Sívori was able to become an Italian citizen, and in April 1961 he made his debut for the Italy national football team.[16] Along with several other foreign-born Italian players, Sívori represented Italy at the 1962 FIFA World Cup in Chile, where they suffered a first-round elimination.[18] In total he earned nine caps and scored eight goals while playing for the Italy.[16]

Playing style

Encyclopædia Britannica has described Sívori's playing style as "audacious and brilliant";[21] a highly talented footballer, he is considered one of Italy's and Juventus's greatest ever players, as well as one of the best players of his generation. Sívori was a quick, diminutive, highly creative, and technically gifted forward, known for his pace on the ball, who utilised his acceleration, outstanding dribbling skills, flair, and feints to beat opposing defenders; these included turns, flicks, quick changes of direction, and his innovative trademark move: the nutmeg, also known as tunnel, in Italian, which involved him playing the ball between an opponents legs. He was primarily a left footed player, and was an excellent finisher and a prolific goalscorer, who possessed a powerful and accurate shot from both inside and outside the area, and who had the ability to score not only with his left, but also his right foot and, in spite of his short stature, his head; this would sometimes see him receiving kicks to the face. Despite not being particularly strong, due to his slender physique, Sívori was also known for his as tenacity and bravery on the pitch, as well as his professionalism as a footballer, although he also drew criticism at times for his volatile character and unsportsman-like behaviour, which often saw him argue with officials, commit aggressive tackles on his opponents, or attempt "to provoke and to humiliate" other players with his skill on the ball.[2][7][12][13][18][22][23][24][25][26][27]

Although he was an excellent goalscorer, especially while with Juventus, Sívori was also able to utilise his vision and passing accuracy to create chances for team-mates, working in unison with Charles and Boniperti in the club's attacking trident, and was capable of playing both in the centre as a main striker and in a deeper role as a second striker or inside forward on the left side of the pitch. Because of his creative playing style, skill, eye for goal, country of birth, hairstyle, strong mentality, and at times rebellious nature both on and off the field, Sívori is often retroactively compared to a player who emerged after him: Diego Maradona, with some parts of the media dubbing him "the Maradona of the Sixties".[2][7][12][28][29][30][31]

Managerial career

Sívori retired from the playing field in 1969. Although he retired to his native Argentina as a wealthy man, his love for the game meant that he decided to take up a further career as a coach; he coached River Plate, Rosario Central, Estudiantes de La Plata, Racing Club and Vélez Sarsfield. In 1970, Bobby Moore was arrested in Bogota, Colombia after a shop assistant claimed to have seen him steal a bracelet from the shop she was working in. After several days, the charges were quashed, and as Moore took a flight to Mexico, he met Sivori, who told him that the false accusation thing was frequent in Colombia.

From 1972 until 1974, Sívori took charge of the Argentine national team, he helped the team qualify for the 1974 FIFA World Cup. Sívori was the first man to call up Ubaldo Fillol for the national side, Fillol would become one of the most highly regarded keepers in Argentine history. After that he became a full-time scout for Juventus in South America.

After retirement

In March 2004, Sívori was named by Pelé as one of the top 125 greatest living footballers and honoured as part of the FIFA 100.[32] The following year in February 2005, Sívori died in his hometown of San Nicolás, at the age of 69 due to pancreatic cancer.[33]

Career statistics



Club performance League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals
Argentina League Cup South America Total
1954River PlatePrimera División168168
Total Argentina 63296329
Italy League Coppa Italia Europe Total
1957–58JuventusSerie A322289-4031
1965–66NapoliSerie A337337
Total Italy 2781462324169317179
Career total 3411752324169380208



Argentine national team
Italian national team

International goals

Goals for Argentina

1.18 March 1956Mexico City, Mexico Brazil2–2Draw1956 Pan American Championship
2.17 March 1957Lima, Peru Ecuador3–0Win1957 South American Championship
3.28 March 1957Lima, Peru Chile6–2Win1957 South American Championship
4.6 April 1957Lima, Peru Peru1–2Loss1957 South American Championship

Goals for Italy

1.25 April 1961Bologna, Italy Northern Ireland3–2WinFriendly
2.24 May 1961Rome, Italy England2–3LossFriendly
3.15 June 1961Florence, Italy Argentina4–1WinFriendly
4.15 June 1961Florence, Italy Argentina4–1WinFriendly
5.4 November 1961Turin, Italy Israel6–0WinFIFA World Cup 1962 Qual.
6.4 November 1961Turin, Italy Israel6–0WinFIFA World Cup 1962 Qual.
7.4 November 1961Turin, Italy Israel6–0WinFIFA World Cup 1962 Qual.
8.4 November 1961Turin, Italy Israel6–0WinFIFA World Cup 1962 Qual.



River Plate


  1. Played only once between Argentina and the Liga Metropolitana de Rio de Janeiro (metropolitan league of Rio de Janeiro) in a single match.[36]



Sívori played the part of himself, in two Italian films.[38]

  • Idoli controluce – (1965)
  • Presidente del Borgorosso Football Club, II – (1970)


  • Giampiero Boniperti: "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."[22]
  • John Charles: "With Sivori, it was the classic big man-little man partnership. Sivori had huge skill and it was a joy to play with a player as good as he was."[28]
  • Marcello Lippi: "Whenever we were talking about Juventus, his eyes brightened up."[22]
  • Humberto Maschio: "He was amazing. A first-class dribbler who had speed and the ability to surprise at any moment."[23]
  • Roberto Bettega: "He was like an older brother for me. 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."[22]

See also

  • Oriundo
  • List of Argentine born footballers to play for other national teams


  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "SIVORI Omar: genio e follia dell'angelo ribelle" (in Italian). Storie di Calcio. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  3. "I miti del calcio: Omar Sivori". 25 October 2011. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  4. "Sivori, la rabbia dell'oriundo Che mafia, si sospetta di tutti: il calcio rischia di morire". 9 February 2001. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  5. (in Spanish) Archived 22 September 2003 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. 1 2 (in Spanish)
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 "Omar Sivori". The Telegraph. 19 February 2005. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  8. "Argentina 1955". 23 April 2009.
  9. "Argentina 1956". 28 February 2008.
  10. 1 2 Vickery, Tim (29 June 2007). "Argentina mourns lost son Sivori". BBC.
  11. "Malta Today". Malta Today. 27 February 2005. Archived from the original on 1 January 2010.
  12. 1 2 3 4 Stefano Bedeschi (2 October 2016). "Gli eroi in bianconero: Omar SIVORI" (in Italian). Tutto Juve. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  13. 1 2 3 4 "La Juventus ricorda su Twitter il mito Omar Sivori" (in Italian). Tutto Sport. 17 February 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  14. Lorenzo Di Benedetto (24 July 2017). "Da Ferrari a Bernardeschi: la Juve e l'importanza della maglia numero 10" (in Italian). Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  15. Archived 11 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. 1 2 3 4 ""Omar Sivori". The Telegraph, 19 February 2005. Retrieved 23 October 2006". The Daily Telegraph. London. 30 March 1987.
  17. Lorenzo Proverbio. "PIOLA Silvio: il sesto senso del gol" (in Italian). Storie di Calcio. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  18. 1 2 3 Roberto Beccantini. "SIVORI, Omar Enrique" (in Italian). Treccani: Enciclopedia dello Sport (2002). Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  19. "Sivori: Fuga da Napoli" (in Italian). Storie di Calcio. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  20. "Enrique Omar Sívori, el último carasucia" (in Spanish). El Gráfico. 25 August 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  21. Encyclopædia Britannica Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. 1 2 3 4 Archived 4 January 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  23. 1 2 "Argentinian legend Enrique Omar Sivori dies at age of 69". Taipei Times. 10 April 2013.
  24. "Breve il mondiale felice di Sivori, inventore del football impossibile" (in Italian). La Stampa. 6 March 1990. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  25. "Sivori" (in Italian). Treccani: Enciclopedie on line. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  26. Stajano Corrado (12 April 2010). "SIVORI E ALTRI EROI, IL VIZIO DEL CALCIO" (in Italian). Il Corriere della Sera. p. 29. Archived from the original on 9 October 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  27. Brian Glanville (21 February 2005). "Omar Sivori". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  28. 1 2 Alex Murphy (19 February 2005). "Omar Sivori". The Independent.
  29. The Scotsman. 19 February 2005 Missing or empty |title= (help)
  30. Total Sports Archived 13 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  31. Archived 18 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  32. 1 2 "Pele's list of the greatest". BBC Sport. 4 March 2004. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  33. 1 2 "Calcio: è morto Omar Sivori" (in Italian). Il Corriere della Sera. 18 February 2005. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  34. "Omar Sívori". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmerman.
  35. "Players Appearing for Two or More Countries". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation.
  36. Copa Raúl Colombo by Héctor Pelayes at the
  37. Roberto Di Maggio; Igor Kramarsic; Alberto Novello (11 June 2015). "Italy - Serie A Top Scorers". RSSSF. Archived from the original on 31 October 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Flavio Emoli
Juventus F.C. captains
Succeeded by
Ernesto Càstano
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