Italy Legend Paolo Rossi Passes Away at 64

Azzurri icon Paolo Rossi has died during the night at age 64 after a months-long fight with lung cancer. The striker led Italy in the 1982 World Cup in Spain, in particular in the elimination stage, scoring a memorable hat-trick against Brazil, a brace versus Poland, and finally one goal in the Final versus Germany. He is the national team’s top scorer in that competition with nine goals, tied with Roberto Baggio and Christian Vieri. He spent the prime of his career at Juventus.

Rossi, who was born in Prato in 1956, was an old-fashioned clinical striker that lived in the box. He played at Como, Perugia, and especially Vicenza before joining the Bianconeri, where he won two Scudetti, one Champions League, one Cup Winners Cup, and one Coppa Italia. He took home the Ballon d’Or in the magical 1982 and was Serie A’s capocannoniere in the 1977-78 season. He finished his career at Milan and then Verona.

Rossi became a folk hero with his incredible performances in the Mundial, whose victory had significance also outside of football as it helped Italy get out of the so-called Anni di Piombo (“Years of Lead”) a lengthy period characterized by political terrorism, and embrace the light-heartedness of the ‘80s. He was a pundit in TV stations Rai and Mediaset in the last few years. He is survived by his wife Federica and three children, Sofia Elena, Maria Vittoria, and Alessandro.