May 21, 2024
Paolo Rossi, Italian soccer great and World Cup winner, has died at the age of 64

Paolo Rossi, Italian soccer great and World Cup winner, has died at the age of 64

Rossi’s wife, Federica Cappelletti, posted on Instagram a photo of her and Paolo with the caption “Per Sempre,” which translates to “Forever.”

She did not disclose the cause of his death.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest Italian soccer players of all time, he scored 20 goals in 48 appearances for the Azzurri.

He scored both goals in Italy’s World Cup semifinal win against Poland in 1982 and the opening goal as the Italians beat West Germany 3-1 in the final, finishing the tournament in Spain with the Golden Boot as top scorer.

Prior to the 1982 World Cup, Rossi had been embroiled in the “Totonero” match-fixing scandal. Banned for three years, his punishment was subsequently reduced to two, enabling Italy coach Enzo Bearzot to include Rossi in his World Cup squad.
“When I started playing again after two years out it was really, really tough. And Bearzot’s trust was very important, as well as the support of my team-mates,” Rossi told FIFA’s website in a 2007 interview.
Bruno Conti, Giancarlo Antognoni, Paolo Rossi, Dino Zoff, Francesco Graziani and Franco Selvaggi of Italy celebrate after winning the 1982 World Cup.

The former Vicenza, Juventus and AC Milan player was also awarded the Golden Ball at the 1982 World Cup for the player of the tournament.

He didn’t score in Italy’s first four World Cup games, but then netted that memorable hat-trick against Brazil.

“Everything suddenly changed,” Rossi told FIFA’s website. “Nothing was going my way and then suddenly everything was going my way. It was suddenly all so easy. Such is the beauty of sport. A goal can change everything. In my case it changed my entire life.”

Paolo Rossi celebrates with Giancarlo Antognoni after scoring for Italy in the 3-2 win against Brazil at the 1982 World Cup.

In the same year, he won the Ballon d’Or, which at the time was awarded to the European footballer of the year. Only four Italians have won the prestigious award.

During his four years at Juventus, Rossi won two Serie A titles, the European Cup and the Coppa Italia.

In a statement, UEFA – European football’s governing body – said a moment of silence would be held before all of Thursday’s Europa League matches in memory of the former striker.

After his soccer career, Rossi worked as a pundit for RAI.

“Such terribly sad news: Paolo Rossi has left us,” RAI said. “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 is the second well known World Cup winner to die in the space of two weeks, following the death of Argentine national hero Diego Maradona in November.