Some players control games, some are capable of outstanding pieces of
skill, while others impose themselves through sheer physical strength. Paolo Rossi didn't fit into any of these categories. He was quite simply a born
goalscorer. But he will be remembered first and foremost as a very special striker, blessed with a tremendous goalscoring instinct and a degree of
humility we may never see the like of again.
Italian striker Paulo Rossi was banned from football for two years in 1980 in a 'match-fixing' scandal. He only completed the ban in April 1982 and
the Italy manager took a risk in selecting him for the World Cup Finals. In the first three games Rossi did not score and many Italian journalists
called for him to be dropped. But something happened and the managers faith in playing him was suddenly to be rewarded. En route to the final his
goals shot down Brazil and Poland. In the final against West Germany it was Rossi who scored the first of Italy's three goals. The striker from
Tuscany finished as the 1982 World Cup's top scorer. Not bad for someone who never scored in the first three games.
Rossi learned his trade at Juventus but even before he celebrated his 18th
birthday his football career was in jeopardy after he had cartilages from both knees removed. He was loaned to Como and it was with the Lombardy
minnows that he made his Serie A debut in November 1975. Then Juventus sold a half-share in Rossi to Serie B club Vicenza and it was there he made his
name. In his first season with the Biancorossi, in 1976-77, his 21 goals helped Vicenza win promotion to Serie A. The following season Rossi and
Vicenza proved to be the revelations of Serie A. Rossi was capocannoniere with 24 goals. Newly-promoted Vicenza, coached by Gian Battista Fabri,
finished second to Juventus.
That season Rossi won his first cap for Italy in a 1-0 victory over Belgium in Liege while Vicenza bought out Juve's share in Rossi for a
then-staggering 1.75m, a deal that nearly ruined the club. After a slightly disappointing 1979-80 season, Rossi scored 15 goals. They were not enough
to stop Vicenza falling into Serie B and he was loaned to Perugia. There, apart from finding himself embroiled in a match-rigging scandal, he netted
13 goals in 28 games. Before his two-year ban was announced Juventus bought Rossi for a cut-price 600,000 from Vicenza. It was a shrewd business move.
Not only did they make 1.15m profit, but after the 1982 World Cup the Bianconeri owned one of the hottest properties in world football.
Back at "Juve" with Antonio Cabrini, Marco Tardelli, Gaetano
Scirea and Claudio Gentile, not to mention Michel Platini and Zbigniew Boniek, two more stars of the FIFA World Cup in Spain, "Pablito"'s appetite for
honours was insatiable. The Italian Cup in 1983, the Scudetto and the Cup Winners' Cup in 1984, the European Cup in 1985. After this flurry of
silverware, he bade farewell to Turin to join arch-rivals AC Milan in the summer of 1985. Honours were harder to come by with the Rossoneri, but he
was nonetheless selected in the squad for the 1986 FIFA World Cup Mexico. He didn't play, however, and, after a brief spell with Verona, finally hung
up his boots the following year at the age of 31. Prone to injury on account of exhaustion, Rossi had opted to call it a day before playing one match
too many. Something of a loner, he quickly vanished from the world of football to concentrate on his passion for deep-sea diving. There's no disputing
that he left his mark in the shape of 20 goals in 48 international appearances and 82 in 215 Serie A games.
1975 - 1976 Como
1976 - 1977 Vicenza
1978 - 1981 Perugia
1981 - 1985 Juventus
1985 - 1986 AC Milan
1986 - 1987 Verona
1982 Italian Title (Juventus)
1983 Italian Cup
1984 Cup Winners' Cup (Juventus)
1985 European Supercup
1985 European Cup (Juventus)
1978 FIFA World Cup Argentina; third place (3 goals)
1982 FIFA World Cup Spain; winners (6 goals)
1986 FIFA World Cup Mexico; quarter-final
215 appearances in Serie A, 82 goals
48 caps, 20 goals
European Footballer of the Year 1982
Planet World Cup
Fifa World Cup.com
[Edited on 31/1/05 by TRD]