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Italian legend and World Cup winner dies aged 64

Italian legend and World Cup winner Paolo Rossi dies aged 64, his family have sadly confirmed in a statement this week.

Rossi became a household name after leading Italy to victory at the tournament in Spain, finishing as top scorer as well as being named best player.

At club level he first came to importance after becoming prolific goalscorer for Vicenza, before then sealing a move to Juventus and later playing for AC Milan.

His death was announced on Thursday, following what Italian media report had been a long illness.

Rossi’s wife, Federica Cappelletti, posted a photo of herself and her husband to her Instagram account along with the words “per sempre” – “for ever”.

“There will never be anyone like you, unique, special …” she later wrote in Italian on Facebook. She did not disclose the cause of his death. It is being reported in Italy that he had a long illness.

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A post shared by Federica Cappelletti (@cappellettifederica)

She did not disclose the cause of his death.

Rossi scored 20 goals in 48 appearances for the Italian national side, and more than 100 Serie A goals during spells with Vicenza, Perugia, Juventus, Milan and Verona.

“Sometimes there are simply no words to express the pain we are all experiencing,” said a statement from Vicenza, who Rossi helped win promotion to Serie A in 1977.

Following his performances at the 1982 World Cup, he was awarded the Ballon d’Or, which at the time, that was given to the European footballer of the year.

Rossi netted a hat-trick in his country’s 3-2 win against Brazil in the quarter-finals of the 1982 tournament.

In the semi-final stage of the competition, he scored two goals as Italy beat Poland 2-0, and got the opener in a 3-1 win over West Germany in the final.

Rossi finished top scorer in the tournament with six goals.

He was also a member of the Italy side that finished fourth in Argentina in 1978.

Rossi won the tournament’s Golden Boot and Golden Ball and, in the same year, the Ballon d’Or. “On one hand I felt fulfilled. I said to myself: ‘You’ve made it,’” he said in a 2018 Fifa documentary. “On the other hand, I was disappointed that all of this just ended. The World Cup was over.”

After retiring from football in the late 1980s, Rossi worked as a pundit for Sky, Mediaset and Rai.

His death was announced on Thursday morning by Italian TV channel RAI Sport, where the Italian had been working as a pundit.

“Such terribly sad news: Paolo Rossi has left us,” RAI Sport presenter Enrico Varriale tweeted.

“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.”


1973–1975 – Juventus
1975–1976 → Como (loan) – 6 games (0 goals)
1976–1979 – L.R. Vicenza – 94 games (60 goals)
1979–1980 → Perugia (loan) – 28 games (13 goals)
1981–1985 – Juventus – 83 games (24 goals)
1985–1986 – Milan – 20 games (2 goals)
1986–1987 – Hellas Verona – 20 games (4 goals)
Total – 251 games (103 goals)

National team
1977–1986 – Italy – 48 games (20 goals)


Serie B: 1976–77

Serie A: 1981–82, 1983–84
Coppa Italia: 1982–83
European Cup Winners’ Cup: 1983–84
UEFA Super Cup: 1984
European Cup: 1984–85

FIFA World Cup: 1982

Serie B Top Goalscorer: 1976–77 (21 goals)
Serie A Top Goalscorer: 1977–78 (24 goals)
FIFA World Cup Silver Ball: 1978
FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 1978, 1982
Gazzetta Sports Awards Man of the Year: 1978
FIFA XI: 1979, 1986
FIFA World Cup Golden Boot: 1982
FIFA World Cup Golden Ball: 1982
Onze d’Or: 1982
Ballon D’Or: 1982
World Soccer Awards Player of the Year: 1982
L’Équipe Champion of Champions: 1982
European Cup Top Scorers: 1982–83
World Soccer Awards 100 Greatest Players of the 20th Century #42
FIFA 100
UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll: #12
Golden Foot “Football Legends”: 2007
Italian Football Hall of Fame: 2016

German football legend Jurgen Klinsmann added: “Dear Pablito, we remember you forever!”

Italian journalist Daniele Verri: “We are all shocked here because Paulo Rossi is such an iconic figure for Italian football.

“He is part of Italian history that goes beyond football.

“For those who were lucky enough to see him play in the 1982 World Cup we cannot ever forget what he did.

“The images of Spain 82 are part of Italian culture.”


It was just two weeks ago that another World Cup legend in Diego Maradona died.

According to reports, he suffered from a heart attack just two weeks after being released from hospital after treatment for a bleed on his brain.

He has died at the age of 60 after suffering a cardiac arrest, according to reports in his native Argentina.

It was then announced by the media that he was to be treated for alcohol dependency.

Maradona, regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, helped Argentina win the World Cup in 1986, the pinnacle of an illustrious career.

He played club football for Boca Juniors, Napoli and Barcelona among others and was adored by millions for his brilliant skills.

Maradona was responsible for the infamous ‘Hand of God’ that eliminated England from the 1986 tournament.

Since leaving hospital, it is said the football icon had been in rehab for alcohol dependency.

“Diego has gone through maybe the most difficult moment of his life and I think it was a miracle that they found this bleeding in his brain that could have cost him his life,” his lawyer said.

“Reports from Argentina that Diego Armando Maradona has died. By some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time. After a blessed but troubled life, hopefully he’ll finally find some comfort in the hands of God,” said Gary Lineker.

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