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Paolo Rossi dies: Italian football loses ´a friend and an icon´ as Pirlo salutes ´our hero´

SoccerNews in Serie A 10 Dec 2020

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Paolo Rossi has been described as an inspiration and a hero of Italian football following his death at the age of 64.

Striker Rossi played for Juventus, where he won the Serie A title twice and also the European Cup in 1985, as well as representing Milan and Hellas Verona during his career.

However, the former Italy international will be most fondly remembered for his exploits with the national team, particularly during the 1982 World Cup as the Azzurri were crowned champions.

His six-goal haul saw him finish as the leading scorer in Spain, while he also returned home with the Golden Ball after being voted as the best player at the tournament.

Following the announcement of Rossi’s death, reportedly after a battle with illness, Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina praised a player who left an indelible mark on the country’s footballing history.

“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,” Gravina said in a tribute posted on the FIGC’s official website.

“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.”

In 48 international appearances, Rossi scored 20 goals. His tally included a famous hat-trick against Brazil in 1982, as well as the opener as Italy triumphed 3-1 over West Germany in the final.

Rossi’s feats led to him winning the Ballon d’Or that year, having been selected by coach Enzo Bearzot in Italy’s squad despite making just three Serie A appearances for Juventus in the 1981-82 season. Rossi had been banned for his alleged role in the ‘Totonero’ match-fixing scandal but returned to action in time for the World Cup.

Current Juve boss Andrea Pirlo posted a picture on Twitter of ‘Pablito’ celebrating with Italy, along with the words: “You will always remain our hero.”

Juventus, the reigning Serie A champions, produced an online tribute to their former player, in which they referenced Rossi’s ability to score “all types of goals, using his uniquely physical style to his advantage”.

Juve also added a description of an “iconic” goal against Manchester United that sealed a place in the Cup Winners’ Cup final in 1984, a trophy they went on to lift thanks to victory over Porto.

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