Omar Sívori, socks rolled down, playing for River Plate vs Huracán.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons / El Gráfico
One of the footballing greats of the 1950s and 60s, Omar Sívori seemed way ahead of his time with some of his skills and tricks, including his trademark tunnel (nutmeg).
Sívori started his career at River Plate and didn't waste any time in showing the club's fans exactly what he was about. Despite his small stature and inexperience, he immediately showed real confidence in his ability, and there was almost an arrogance about him when he was on the ball. Sívori's dribbling and pace when running with the ball were phenomenal, whilst his flicks, feints and movement highlighted his invention and speed of thought. He'd only just turned twenty as he helped River Plate regain the Argentine title in 1955, before winning the following two titles as well.
In 1957, aged only 21, he was named Player of the Tournament as Argentina won the South American Championship with a wonderful attacking partnership that was nicknamed “Los Carasucias” (the Angels with Dirty Faces). This deadly partnership saw Omar Sívori alongside Omar Corbatta, Osvaldo Cruz, Humberto Maschio and Antonio Angelillo. Their form alerted big-spending Italian clubs and resulted in Sívori, Maschio and Angelillo being transferred to Juventus, Bologna and Inter respectively. In the case of Sívori, such was his talent that Juventus broke the world record transfer fee to take him to Turin, the story goes that the money River Plate received for him allowed them to complete the building of a fourth stand at their El Monumental stadium.
In Turin, Sívori soon endeared himself to the Juve faithful with his creativity, skill and passion, forming a formidable attacking trident with Welshman John Charles and club legend Giampiero Boniperti. This earned him another football partnership nickname - “Le Trio Magico” (The Magic Trio). There's a great quote from Giampiero Boniperti about Sívori that gives a real flavour of his playing-style and attitude; "Playing alongside Sívori 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.". He won the Scudetto three times in his first four seasons at Juventus, and his performances earned him the Ballon D'Or award in 1961.
Finally, few players are given a retrospective nickname, but, in articles written about Omar Sívori in recent years, he's been dubbed "the Maradona of the Sixties", which shows exactly just how highly he was rated.