The football world has been plunged into mourning once again after the death was announced of Paolo Rossi, the star of the 1982 World Cup in Spain, at the age of just 64 following a long illness.
Rossi became a household name for his exploits in Spain, scoring six goals in just three games as Italy beat West Germany in the final to claim the most prestigious prize in international football.
The honors didn’t stop there for him that year. In addition to being the top scorer at the 1982 World Cup, he was also named its best player as well as winning that year’s Ballon d’Or to complete what was a year of individual dominance.
On the domestic side, Rossi first showed his talents in a spell with Vicenza before moving to Juventus in 1981 where he would win two scudetti before brief spells with Milan and Hellas Verona. In total, Rossi claimed more than 100 Serie A goals to add to the 20 strikes in 48 appearances he amassed for the national team.
A true Azzurri hero has left us. Ciao Pablito, and thank you for everything 💙 pic.twitter.com/CyaNayTHml
RIP #PaoloRossi … the unforgettable 1982 World Cup-winning star who made all of us fall in love that summer. He scored 6 goals in 3 games at the finals, including a hat-trick against Brazil.One of the best forwards of all time, having won the Golden Ball at the 1982 WC. pic.twitter.com/E0BXRlrGaa
The cause of Rossi’s death wasn’t announced but his wife, Federica Cappelletti, posted a picture of the two together to social media along with the words “per sempre“, or “forever“.
More than his goals though, Rossi is remembered for being central to some of Italian football’s most defining moments. His famous face is burned into the memory of fans of the Azzurri and, much like another recently fallen icon, Diego Maradona, he Rossi was the central figure in a World Cup win.
“Sometimes there are simply no words to express the pain we are all experiencing,” wrote his former club Vicenza in a statement, while the Italian Football Federation also paid tribute to one of its most iconic players.
RIP Paolo RossiHis fantastic hat-trick in 1982, in one of the greatest World Cup games of all time.Italy 3-2 Brazil Another legend gone!#RipPaoloRossi#Juventus#Italypic.twitter.com/1tIgccl3J9
So sad to hear this. I was a little kid too during Espana 82..that was when I fell in love with Italian football. RIP Paolo Rossi. https://t.co/h6tCarMANV
Up to the sad news that Paolo Rossi has died.I was 9 years old when Rossi, Tardelli, Altobelli, Graziani and the rest of that 1982 squad made me want to be Italian.That was meant to be Brazil’s World Cup. But nah… pumped aff a Rossi hat-trick.
“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,” they wrote in a statement posted early Thursday.
“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.”