Luigi “Gigi” Riva, Italian football legend, died Monday January 22 at the age of 79, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) announced to Agence France-Presse. The top scorer in the history of the Italian selection fell ill on Sunday at his home and has since been hospitalized in Cagliari, the city where he spent almost his entire playing career, between 1963 and 1977.

“It is a true national monument that has left us, Gigi Riva embodied the myth of the free man and the extraordinary football player,” FIGC President Gabriele Gravina said in a statement.

The one who was nicknamed “Rombo di Tuono” (“thunderclap”) because of his exceptional striking power, marked the history of Italian football. With 35 goals in 42 caps, he is the top scorer in the history of the Nazionale and won the 1968 European champion title with it.

But it was during the 1970 World Cup that he wrote the most beautiful pages of his career and of world football. The striker was in fact alongside Gianni Rivera one of the key players in the semi-final won 4-3 by Italy against Germany, considered one of the greatest matches in history of the competition. Gigi Riva scored one of the five goals scored during the crazy overtime which sent Italy to the final where they lost to Pelé’s Brazil (4-1).