Football

Italy mourns death of 1982 World Cup hero Paolo Rossi

Italian football fans yesterday mourned the death of their icon Paolo Rossi, who was the Azzurri's goalscoring hero from their victorious 1982 World Cup campaign.

Italian TV channel RAI Sport, where Rossi had been working as a pundit, said "Pablito" had died of an "incurable disease" at the age of 64. His death comes just two weeks after Argentinian star Diego Maradona died of a heart attack.

Rossi won two Serie A titles, a European Cup and a Coppa Italia with Juventus. But he will be most fondly remembered for lighting up the 1982 World Cup in Spain with six goals.

His selection in the Italy squad came after a two-year ban for a match-fixing scandal and was initially criticised by pundits, who wrote him off as out of shape.

But they were left eating their words when he struck one of the World Cup's great hat-tricks against Brazil.

Italy's 3-2 win in that classic encounter booked them a place in the semis against Poland, against whom Rossi scored a brace in a 2-0 win that fired his side into the World Cup final against West Germany.

Rossi then scored Italy's first in a 3-1 victory that gave them their third World Cup title and their first since 1938.

He won the Golden Boot as the top scorer and Golden Ball as the player of the tournament, calling it redemption after the fallout from the match-fixing fiasco.

Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport remembered Rossi as "the one who beat Zico's Brazil, Maradona's Argentina, Boniek's Poland and, in the final, the Germany of Rummenigge".

Rossi, who also scored three goals at the 1978 World Cup, remains Italy's joint top scorer at the World Cup with nine, alongside Roberto Baggio and Christian Vieri. - REUTERS

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