The 59-year-oldex-soccer star is featured in the documentary Once in a Lifetime: TheExtraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos, which opens on July 14
SI: You scored 193goals in the NASL, the most in the league.
Chinaglia: And 50goals in the playoffs.
SI: Indeed. Areyou the best player ever to play in America?
June 18, 2006
Chinaglia: Yes. Iwon more NASL championships than anybody. I was the top goal scorer. What elsedo you want to know? Let's be realistic. Numbers don't lie.
SI: You areportrayed in the film as a great scorer--and, in your role as the Cosmos' defacto G.M., as a manipulative and Machiavellian guy. Fair or unfair?
Chinaglia: It'snot that it's unfair, but the reality is this: I had a mission to do. [Cosmosowner and former Time-Warner CEO] Steve Ross wanted the best franchise in theworld. So I tried to get the best 15 or 16 players from around the world everyyear to make sure people came to the stadium. And they did.
SI: Were youjealous of Pelé when you played together?
Chinaglia:Absolutely not. But I used to get angry at him for a couple of reasons. Number1, he used to come next to me, and one guy would mark the two of us. I'd say,"Stay wide. You can do better things than anybody there." He didn'tlike it, but in the end we won the championships. Then he liked it.
SI: How far awayis the U.S. from being a perennial World Cup contender?
Chinaglia: Notvery far. The youngsters playing today in the soccer academies are very good.Before they were good athletes, and that was about it. Now they are not onlygood athletes but they have skills.
SI: What do youexpect from the U.S. team this year?
Chinaglia: I thinkpeople are expecting a bit too much. They did a great job in 2002. But they'rein a tough group. I hope there is not too much expectation.
> For morefrom Giorgio Chinaglia, go to SI.com/scorecard.