If Gianni Rivera was not selected to make the gallery of the greatest inside-forwards, past and present, of France Football in February 1962, as this special feature was made 5 months before the World Cup in Chile where he then confirmed the big hopes placed in him and really get fame at an international level, the editorial board of the French magazine, creator of the Ballon d'or, did not fail however to showcase the one who was named the "golden boy" as he was clubs' European Cup title holder, in September 1963, by endorsing what some of his most illustrious fellow country-men, teammates, opponents on the field or seasoned observers said about him. Is that Rivera had to take-up a new challenge.
An article taken from Football Magazine (Mensual supplement of France Football), #44 :
BEFORE ITALY - USSR, EC.
RIVERA (Italy) : A 20 years old Maestro.
Rivera : at 20 years, he has achieved full success. All the stars of calcio (where we do not make things easy for each other), talk about him with deep admiration.
The current ones :
"He's a natural born footballer, there is nothing to teach him", Sivori says. "He does everything with an extraordinary facility", Hamrin imparts. "He is a model of precision", underlines Maldini. He can win a match on his own", Angelillo affirms. "He has a power on the public", Corso considers.
The ones of the past :
"I rediscover in him all my youngness" Meazza admits. "He has the maturity of a 28 years old player", Foni declares. "He is in sheer class, the best European player of the moment", Boniperti observes.
This wonder of the calcio it's Gianni Rivera who turned 20 on the 18th of August, Gianni Rivera, Champion of Europe, selected in the World XI, "continental oscar" with his comrades Maldini and Trapattoni, and playmaker of the Squadra Azzura.
Italy would be beaten 2-0 in Moscow on the 13th October before to make a draw-game 1-1 in Rome, on the 10th November, with a late equalizer by Rivera. The Soviet team advanced to eventually reach the final, where they were beaten by Spain at Bernabeu, in June '64.
The Squadra Azzura would finally conquer the European title in the next edition of the Nations Cup, but that with a modest contribution from the Milanista who was not even selected by Valcareggi to play any of the two games of the Final (match replayed) against Yugoslavia. At both a collective and an individual level, Rivera would be more successful the following year by winning the European Champion Clubs' Cup as well as the Ballon d'or France Football to which he already ranked second as soon as 1963, when he won his first European Cup with Milan whilst he was, as we have seen, eliminated of the European Nations Cup with Italy.