The former Italian footballer Paolo Rossi, who won the 1982 World Cup with his country, has died at the age of 64.
The legendary striker, nicknamed ‘Pablito’, was famed for his performance in that World Cup where his six goals helped Italy to their third World Cup victory.
News of his death comes less than two weeks after the death of another of football’s greats – Diego Maradona, who won the 1986 World Cup with Argentina.
Rossi’s wife Federica Cappelletti, announced his death on social media, writing on Facebook: “There will never again be someone like you, unique, special.”
Italian media quickly paid tribute. “Paolo Rossi, the lovable football poet who brought joy to the whole of Italy in 1982 is dead,” the daily Corriere della Sera wrote on its website.
He was “the man who made Brazil cry and led Bearzot’s Azzurri to the World Cup”, wrote the newspaper La Repubblica.
Crucial goals in 1982
Paolo Rossi nearly didn’t make the 1982 World Cup. He was suspended for three years in 1980 amid a scandal over rigged matches and illegal betting in Italy, but after a reduction in his sanction, he was called up for the side.
And that fateful development saw Italy crowned the winners. He scored a hatrick against Brazil – at the time seen as the favourites to win the World Cup in Spain – knocking them out of the tournament.
He then scored twice against Poland, sending his side into the final, before opening the scoring against West Germany, in a match Italy won 3-1.
He was named best player, and top scorer, and then finished the year as the Ballon d’Or winner.
He played for a number of clubs in Italy, most famously Juventus where he won two Serie A titles, one European Cup and the Coppa Italia.