Italian Giorgio Chinaglia scored more goals than any player in NASL history, earning 193 goals in 213 regular season games, and 50 goals in 43 playoff games for the Comos in his 7 year North American career. His career started with Swansea in the Welsh league in 1964-65, continuing to Italy 3rd Div. Massese and Internapoli before being signed to Lazio in 1969-70, where he had a distinguished career before being signed by the Cosmos in 1976. During his NASL career, he because one of the league's most recognizable players, being the NASL's leading scorer in 1976, 1978, 1980, 1981, and 1982. He was NASL MVP in 1981, and lead the Cosmos to four championships in 1977, 1978, 1980 and 1982. Later in his NASL career,
Little wonder that the world was stunned when he came out of retirement to play for the New York cosmos during the 1975 season. His signing at an unprecedented salary (estimated to be a total of $7,000,000 for six years; three as player, and three as "ambassador of the game) brought instant recognition to the NASL and gave the league a genuine chance to establish itself as a major sports league in the USA and gave the sport its best chance of establishing itself in the country.
Fans nationwide took notice; to this dat many older MLS fans who became fans during the NASL days can point to his signing as what attracted their attention. When one considers the revolution in US soccer that resulted from the attention paid to pele's signing it is amazing to remember how short his tenure was - less than 2 1/2 seasons, where he scored 39 goals in 64 games, winning recognition as 1976 NASL MVP and leading the Cosmos to victory in Soccer Bowl '77. After his retirement in 1977, Pele played for both sides in an emotional exhibition game between Cosmos and Santos played to a thundering sellout crowd of 76,000 in a ferocious downpour at Giants Nstadium before a national network TV audience. A perfect end to an incredible career.
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