Remembering Paolo Rossi, a true great. Gravina: “We’ve lost a friend and an icon of Italian football.”

The hero of Italy’s 1982 World Cup triumph has passed away at the age of 64

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Remembering Paolo Rossi, a true great. Gravina: “We’ve lost a friend and an icon of Italian football.”

He was the hero of Italy’s 1982 World Cup triumph, the tournament’s top scorer and a true leader of a side that won Italy’s third World Cup. Paolo Rossi, known to everyone as ‘Pablito’, has passed away at the age of 64. A true Italian football legend and someone who made us cry with joy in 1982 has left us.

His hat-trick against Brazil, his brace against Poland in the semi-final and his goal against Germany at the Santiago Bernabeu in the final inspired the Azzurri to an unforgettable triumph, with his infectious smile being broadcast into the homes of millions of Italians. FIGC President Gabriele Gravina expressed his condolences on behalf of the whole of Italian football: “The passing of Pablito is another deeply painful loss, a wound to the heart of all football fans and one which will be difficult to heal. We’ve lost a friend and an icon of Italian football. In spurring the National Team on to success in 1982, he had Italians celebrating in squares across the country, both for him and with him. He indelibly tied his name to the Azzurri and, through his style of play, inspired numerous strikers of future generations.” To remember Paolo Rossi, flags have been raised at half-mast on via Allegri, at the FIGC headquarters and at the Coverciano Federal Technical Centre.

It was at Vicenza where Rossi first made a name for himself, scoring 24 goals during the 1977/78 season as the Biancorossi finished second in the league. Through his exploits, he was called up by Enzo Bearzot for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. After joining Juventus, he enjoyed tremendous success during the 1980s: while at the Bianconeri, he scored 24 goals in 83 appearances and won the Scudetto twice, the Coppa Italia once, one European Cup, one Cup Winners’ Cup and one European Super Cup. His greatest accomplishments came with Italy, however. His story with the Azzurri began in December 1977, when he made his debut in a friendly against Belgium. After taking part in the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, where he scored three goals as Italy finished fourth, he was also named in the Italy squad for the same tournament in 1982. With six goals, he finished as the top goalscorer in Madrid and was one of the main architects of Italy’s triumph. In total, he scored 20 goals in 48 matches for the Azzurri and, along with Roberto Baggio and Christian Vieri, holds the record for the number of goals scored by an Italian player in World Cup football (nine).

The third Italian player to win the Ballon d’Or, he was inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame in 2016.