Sun, Feb 20, 2005 - Page 22 News List

Argentinian legend Enrique Omar Sivori dies at age of 69


Followers of Enrique Omar Sivori bade tearful farewell on Friday to the Argentina soccer great who led River Plate and Juventus of Italy to glory in his heyday half a century ago.

Sivori, who had been struggling with pancreatic cancer, died Thursday and was laid to rest Friday at a cemetery in his native San Nicolas, about 230km north of the capital of Buenos Aires. He was 69.

Prominent newspaper La Nacion called Sivori the soccer "ace without borders" in reference to his Argentine-Italian dual citizenship and his starring roles on fields both in South America and Europe.

Others hailed the "soccer genius" who dominated the field for both River Plate and Juventus beginning in the 1950s.

Sivori, honored as the best European soccer player of 1961, played on both the Argentine and Italian national squads and was a memorable onfield presence throughout the 1950s and most of the 1960s.

Known for his flowing hair and a powerful left foot, he starred at forward with the kind of mastery that would be likened later to the ball-handling wizardry of Diego Maradona.

"He was amazing ... a first-class dribbler who had speed and the ability to surprise at any moment," said Humberto Maschio, a former teammate on the Argentine national team.

Sivori led Argentina to the 1957 South American championship, winning the title on a team that included Omar Corbatta, Osvaldo Cruz and Humberto Maschio and remembered for its offensive prowess.

En route to the title, the team scored 21 goals in four games, including a 8-0 rout of Colombia.

As part of River Plate's lineup, Sivori also led the Buenos Aires club to league titles in 1955, 1956 and 1957. Sivori went on to Juventus of Italy where he won a huge following as he helped that squad to three league titles -- in 1958, 1960 and 1961 and to two Italian Cup victories -- in 1959 and 1960.

He remains revered among Juventus fans who still recall his 135 goals in 215 games.

Sivori closed out his career at Napoli in 1968, lifting the team to a 2nd-place finish in one season.

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