Italy’s 1982 World Cup hero Paolo Rossi has died two months after his 64th birthday following a battle with illness.
Rossi’s passing was announced in the early hours of Thursday morning by Italian television channel RAI Sport, who he had been working for as a pundit in recent times.
The former Juventus and AC Milan attacker led Italy to World Cup glory at Spain 1982, with the striker winning the tournament’s Golden Ball and Golden Boot with his six goals.
Rossi netted a hat-trick in the famous 3-2 win against Brazil, before scoring both goals in the semi-final against Poland and getting the crucial opener in the final versus West Germany, which the Italians went on to win 3-1 and clinch their third World Cup title.
In winning the World Cup title, Golden Ball and Golden Boot, Rossi became the first player to hold all three honours simultaneously – until the feat was equalled by Ronaldo Nazario in 2002.
Following the 1982 tournament, Rossi’s extraordinary exploits across both international and club football were recognised when he was awarded the Ballon d’Or for that year.
Rossi’s international career included 48 caps and 20 goals for his beloved Italy between 1977-1986
Having begun his club career with Vicenza and then maturing with Perugia, Rossi confirmed himself as a star shortly after he joined Juventus in 1981.
Rossi, also known as Pablito, also played with Milan and Verona at the end of his career, as well as with Como at the beginning – the team he had made his debut in Serie A with.
He scored an incredible 134 goals in 338 club matches and is widely considered one of the best forwards of his time.
Rossi won the Serie A title on two occasions with Juventus in 1981-82 and 1983-84, and also lifted the European Cup with Old Lady in 1984-85.
Even after finishing his playing career, Rossi stayed involved in the game as a columnist and pundit.
“Such terribly sad news: Paolo Rossi has left us,” RAI Sport presenter Enrico Varriale said when announcing the passing.
“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.
“RIP dear Paolo.”
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