Paolo Rossi, Italy’s 1982 World Cup dies at 64
|Paolo Rossi dancing round the Brazilians at the 1982 World Cup. (Photo credit: Sky Sports)|
While the footballing world is still mourning the passage of legend, Diego Armando Maradona, the cold hand of death has struck again, this time in Europe, and again, another World Cup great.
News broke out on Wednesday of the demise of the leading light in the triumphant Italian side of 1982 fame, Paolo Rossi, RAI TV announced and he was said to have lost to an incurable disease which he battled for a while.
"Such terribly sad news: Paolo Rossi has left us," RAI Sport presenter Enrico Varriale tweeted. "Unforgettable Pablito, who made all of us fall in love in that summer of 1982 and who was a precious and competent work colleague in RAI over recent years."
Rossi won major titles with Italian giants, Juventus including a European title, two league titles as well as the Copa Italia but his biggest achievement would be his six goals at the 1982 World Cup finals, which includes a jaw-dropping hattrick against Brazil who were the defending champion at the time.
Like the tale of Ronaldo de Lima in 2002, lots of eyebrows were raised and many pundits questioned the inclusion of Paolo Rossi in the Azzuri team following his shape and form but he didn’t waste time before silencing critics.
The three goals against Brazil was followed up by another scintillating performance in the second group game against Poland; Rossi hit a brace that dumped the Poles out of the competition and he didn’t stop there.
He took his heroics to the title decider against West Germany, he scored the opener in a 3-1 win as Italy won the World Cup for the first time since 1938. He went on to win the Golden Ball for the best player and the Golden Boot for being the highest goal scorer with six goals.
Born in Prato, Tuscany, Rossi played his entire club career in Italy. He was banned for three years in 1980 as part of the "Totonero" match-fixing scandal but always denied any wrongdoing.
The ban was later reduced to two years, allowing him to return to the Italy squad and carve out his slice of World Cup history.
He also scored three goals at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. With a total of nine goals, he remains Italy's joint-highest scorer at the World Cup with Roberto Baggio and Christian Vieri.