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Paolo Rossi obituary


The footballer Paolo Rossi, who has died aged 64 of lung most cancers, turned a nationwide hero in Italy after scoring six instances within the 1982 World Cup match in Spain, together with an important first objective within the 3-1 victory over West Germany within the closing.

That win was a cathartic second for the nation, which had been topic to vital social and political unrest for a variety of years and, regardless of being thought to be one of many world’s premier footballing nations, had not gained a World Cup since 1938. With the victory got here an incalculable raise to the nation’s spirits, and Rossi was on the centre of the celebrations.

The next turnaround in Italy’s temper in some ways mirrored Rossi’s personal private redemption: for a few years earlier than the World Cup he had been mired in one of many greatest scandals in footballing historical past, banned for 2 years for his function in a match-fixing scheme that encompassed lots of Italy’s greatest golf equipment. He had returned to the sport solely eight weeks earlier than the World Cup finals, and within the first three matches of the match the rust had proven alarmingly.


Paolo Rossi (1956-2020): the Italian legend’s most memorable moments – video

Within the second spherical of group phases, nonetheless, Rossi exploded into motion with a sensible hat-trick in a 3-2 win over the match favourites, Brazil, who included gamers of the thrilling calibre of Sócrates, Zico and Falcão. Together with his mojo returned to full working order, he scored each targets in a 2-0 win over Poland within the semi-finals after which gave Italy the lead after 57 minutes in opposition to West Germany as they gained the ultimate in Madrid.

That decisive striker’s objective was a typical Rossi effort, a stooping header contained in the six-yard field, the place he operated so stealthily and successfully. Though with out nice bodily presence – he was relatively barely constructed and stood at 5ft 10in – Rossi was a grasp at stealing-in behind defences, gaining a valuable fraction of a second by means of his fast pondering, nice ball management and his balletic, darting actions into the hazard space.

On his return to the home scene with Juventus after the 1982 World Cup, these abilities helped him to win two Italian league titles and to choose up winners’ medals within the European Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup. However his profession was comparatively brief, and he retired on the age of 30 due to harm.



Paolo Rossi, left, celebrates after scoring the opening objective in Italy’s World Cup closing victory over West Germany on 11 July 1982. {Photograph}: Fairfax Media Archives/Getty Photos

Born in Prato in Tuscany, Rossi had no downside persuading his father, Vittorio, a eager beginner footballer, that his younger expertise might take him into the skilled recreation. However his mom, Amelia, was tougher to persuade, and it was solely along with her grudging approval that he signed for Juventus at 16 in 1972, initially as a winger. In Paolo’s early days his mom’s doubts gave the impression to be justified, as he was laid low by a collection of accidents and appeared solely hardly ever for the primary crew.

On mortgage to retro second division Vicenza, he was switched to a central placing function, and there he was in a position to exhibit his uncommon capacity to ghost in behind defences. He was high scorer for the membership within the 1976-77 season as they gained promotion from Serie B to Serie A, and the next 12 months he had the best tally of any participant within the high flight, scoring 24 as his aspect completed second.

That kind gained him choice for the 1978 World Cup finals in Argentina, during which he scored three targets – in opposition to France, Hungary and Austria – as Italy completed fourth. At that stage it appeared as if his profession was on a relentlessly upward trajectory, however extra accidents adopted and Vicenza have been relegated in 1978-79 as Rossi spent a lot of the season within the therapy room. Compelled to hunt top-flight soccer with a transfer to Perugia, it was there that he turned embroiled within the nationwide 1980 Totonero match-fixing scandal.

Rossi was arrested after it emerged {that a} 2-2 draw between Perugia and Avellino, during which he had scored each his aspect’s targets, had been fastened by a betting syndicate. Though he admitted having been approached to take a bribe, he mentioned he had not taken up the supply. Nonetheless, after an official investigation into different widespread irregularities throughout the nation, he was discovered responsible and given a three-year ban, later lowered to 2 on attraction. He was one in all 20 gamers from 11 golf equipment to be suspended, with others receiving bans of between six months and 6 years.

After retiring from football Rossi worked as a pundit for various television stations, where he was admired for his down-to-earth presence.



After retiring from soccer Rossi labored as a pundit for numerous tv stations, the place he was admired for his down-to-earth presence. {Photograph}: Simone Comi/IPA/Rex/Shutterstock

Throughout his exile Rossi was allowed to coach with Juventus, and it was with the Turin aspect that he returned, scoring one objective in three appearances on the finish of the 1981-82 season as Juventus gained Serie A. Clearly in poor form, and with simply two months to go till the World Cup finals in Spain, not many anticipated him to be match sufficient, both bodily or mentally, for inclusion within the match squad. However Italy’s supervisor, Enzo Bearzot, had no such doubts, and he was chosen instantly.

After the glory in Madrid, which gained Rossi the 1982 Ballon d’Or as Europe’s finest footballer, he secured additional honours with Juventus, profitable the Italian Cup in 1983, the European Cup Winners’ Cup and the Serie A title in 1984, after which the European Cup in 1985, in a 1-0 win in opposition to Liverpool that was irretrievably marred by the demise of 39 followers within the Heysel stadium catastrophe.

The following 12 months Rossi transferred to Milan, however spent solely a season there earlier than shifting to Hellas Verona. His harm issues had returned, and regardless of being picked by Italy within the 1986 World Cup finals squad, he was unable to play in any of the match video games. He retired in 1987, having helped Hellas Verona to complete fourth in Serie A. For Italy he had scored 20 targets in 48 matches and for his numerous golf equipment simply over 100 targets in 250 appearances.

In retirement Rossi moved into the world of property growth, and owned and ran a winery close to Arezzo in Tuscany. He additionally labored as a pundit for numerous tv stations, together with Sky, the place he was admired for his down-to-earth presence.

His first marriage, to Simonetta Rizzato, led to divorce. He’s survived by his second spouse, Federica Cappelletti, whom he married in 2010, their two daughters, Maria and Sofia, and a son, Alessandro, from his first marriage.

Paolo Rossi, footballer, born 23 September 1956; died 9 December 2020



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