Rome: Paolo Rossi, Italy’s top-scorer in the 1982 FIFA World Cup, has passed away at the age of 64.
Italian TV channel RAI Sport, for whom Rossi had been working as a pundit, announced the news of his demise on Thursday morning.
“A very sad news: Paolo Rossi left us,” RAI Sport presenter Enrico Varriale tweeted. “Unforgettable Pablito, who made us all fall in love in that summer of ’82 and who has been a precious and competent workmate at RAI in recent years. RIP dear Paolo.”
Rossi’s wife, Cappelletti Federica, posted a photo of herself and her husband to her Instagram account along with the words “per sempre” which means “forever” in English.
She, however, did not disclose the cause of his death.
Rossi is widely regarded as one of the best forwards of all time and is most famous for his heroics at the 1982 World Cup in Spain. He scored six goals to win the Golden Boot as top goal-scorer, and the Golden Ball for the player of the tournament.
The forward is one of only three players to have won all three awards at a World Cup, along with Garrincha in 1962, and Mario Kempes in 1978. Rossi was also awarded the 1982 Ballon d’Or as the European Footballer of the Year for his performances. Along with Roberto Baggio and Christian Vieri, he is Italy’s top scorer in World Cup history, with nine goals in total.
“We mourn the tragic demise of the legendary Italian footballing icon Paolo Rossi, winning member of the 1982 FIFA World Cup Team. He was one of the three footballers to win the Golden Boot and Golden Ball in a single edition of FIFA WC,” the official handle of Indian football team tweeted.
In total, Rossi scored 20 goals in 48 appearances for Italy.
At club level, Rossi was also a prolific goal-scorer for Vicenza. In 1976, he was signed to Juventus from Vicenza in a co-ownership deal for a world record transfer fee. Vicenza retained his services, and he was top goalscorer in Serie B in 1977, leading his team to promotion to Serie A.
The following season, Rossi scored 24 goals, to become the first player to top the scoring charts in Serie B and Serie A in consecutive seasons. In 1981, Rossi made his debut for Juventus, and went on to win two Serie A titles, the Coppa Italia, the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, the UEFA Super Cup, and the European Cup.
The news of Rossi’s passing comes two weeks after the death of Argentina football legend Diego Maradona, winner of the 1986 World Cup.