Paolo Rossi: 1982 World Cup footballer’s career highlights with Italy and Juventus as he dies following illness

Paolo Rossi’s wife Cappelletti Federica posted a picture of the forward alongside the words “per sempre”

Italian football fans are in mourning following the death of World Cup 1982 legend Paolo Rossi who has died at the age of 64.

His performance against Brazil at the Sarria Stadium in Barcelona in which he scored a hat-trick is widely regarded as one of the greatest on international football’s biggest stage, and would see him become an icon of the tournament.

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The Prato-born striker also established himself as a star at two of Italy’s northern powerhouses; AC Milan and Juventus, winning a European Cup with the latter in 1985.

Paolo Rossi is an icon of the beautiful game (Getty Images)
Paolo Rossi is an icon of the beautiful game (Getty Images)

A statement from the Turin club following Rossi’s death read: “Paolo Rossi, “Pablito” has passed away: for the entire nation, he was the man of an unforgettable Mundial, and for us, he was so much more.

“Paolo is an entire generation of Juventus players who cheered with him, in front of televisions that, month after month, turned into colour. But our wonderful joys continued to be in black and white.”

What happened at the 1982 World Cup?

Paolo Rossi transformed from villain to folk hero at the 1982 tournament.

Prior to the showpiece event Rossi had been caught up in the 1980 Totonero matchfixing scandal, and though Rossi always maintained his innocence, the striker was issued with a three-year ban, that was subsequently reduced to two.

Determined to make his return to football one of “personal redemption”, Rossi led Italy’s charge for a third World Cup with a series of breathtaking forward performances.

After squeaking through the first group stage with three draws, Italy faced Argentina and Brazil in a second group stage, winning the fixtures 2-1 and 3-2 respectively. The first game was a defensive masterclass by the Azzuri, a collective effort against an Argentina side which boasted the talents of Diego Maradona, Ossie Ardiles and Mario Kempes.

The match-up with Brazil was all about Rossi however, the striker, who had previously come under criticism for his performances, scoring an immaculate hat-trick, the first a towering header, the second a lethal hook with his right foot after robbing the Brazilian defence and the third a poacher’s tap in in the six-yard box.

Having found his lethal touch Rossi would rattle in two more goals in the semi-final against Poland in a 2-0 wins.

A formidable West German side awaited Italy in the final and both attacks went down the Santiago Bernabeu tunnel at halftime with nothing to show for their efforts. A header from Rossi in the 57th minute would spark the final into life however, with goals from Marco Tardelli and Alessandro Altobelli handing Italy a deserved 3-1 victory.

Redemption complete, Rossi emerged from Spain with a Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer and Golden Ball as the tournament’s top player.

Who did he play for during his club career?

Italy’s number 20 would also make his mark for Serie A and Serie B clubs Vicenza, Perugia, Juventus, Milan and Verona.

After a fruitless first spell at Juventus, Rossi established himself as a deadly striker at Vincenza, earning the Serie B golden boot with 21 strikes in the 1975-76 season. The step up to the Serie A would prove no issue for Rossi who claimed a second golden boot in two years, this time racking up 24 goals for the Veneto club.

Rossi would return to Juventus where he established himself as one of the Serie A’s top strikers, scoring 44 goals over four seasons.

During his second spell in Turin Rossi would collect two Scudetti, an Italian Cup and three European titles; the Cup Winners' Cup, the European Super Cup and the European Cup.

Rossi would see out the twilight of his career at a struggling AC Milan side and Hellas Verona, scoring a brace in a Milan Derby at the former.

In 2004, fellow great Pele would name Rossi as one of the 125 greatest footballers of all time.