Paolo Rossi was an Italian professional footballer who played as a forward. He is best known for leading Italy to victory in the 1982 FIFA World Cup where he won the Golden Boot as the top goalscorer and Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament.
Rossi was a prolific goalscorer for clubs like Juventus and Hellas Verona in Italy and also had spells with Como, Vicenza and Milan. He won numerous honors during his club career including two Serie A titles, a European Cup, a Cup Winners’ Cup and two Coppa Italia trophies.
At international level, Rossi scored 20 goals in 48 appearances for Italy from 1977 to 1986. Along with the 1982 World Cup triumph, he was also a member of the Italian squad that finished fourth at the 1978 World Cup.
Paolo Rossi’s Early Life and Age
Paolo Rossi was born on 23rd September 1956 in Prato, Tuscany, Italy. He passed away on 9th December 2020 at the age of 64 after losing a battle to lung cancer.
Rossi developed a keen interest in football from a young age and honed his skills as a striker on the fields near his home. He was spotted by a Juventus scout while playing for a local youth team and soon signed for the club as a teenager.
Paolo Rossi’s Club Career and Achievements
Rossi joined the youth academy of Juventus in 1972 at the age of 17. After a couple of seasons with the youth and reserve sides, he was promoted to the senior team in 1973. However, due to injuries and limited opportunities, he made just 3 appearances before being loaned out to Como in Serie B for the 1974-75 season.
Goalscorer for Lanerossi Vicenza
In 1976, Rossi moved to Lanerossi Vicenza where he immediately became an integral part of the team. Playing as an advanced striker, he scored 21 goals in his first season as they gained promotion to Serie A.
The following season (1977-78), Rossi really made his mark in the top flight as he finished as the Capocannoniere (top scorer) with 24 goals. His performances earned him a recall to the Italian national team and a move back to Juventus.
European Glory with Juventus
Rossi returned to Juventus in 1978 and helped the club win the Serie A title in his very first season. The following season, he formed a formidable partnership with Roberto Bettega and scored 13 goals as Juve retained the Scudetto.
In the 1979-80 season, Rossi was the top scorer in the European Cup (now Champions League) with 9 goals as Juventus reached the final. Although they lost 1-0 to Nottingham Forest, Rossi was recognized for his performances by winning the prestigious Ballon d’Or award for European Footballer of the Year in 1982.
Golden Boot and Coppa Italia at Juventus
Rossi had an injury-hit 1980-81 season but still managed to score 14 goals in Serie A. The following season (1981-82) saw him back to his very best as he finished Capocannoniere again, this time with 24 goals. His exploits fired Juventus to their 20th Coppa Italia title that season.
Successful stint with Hellas Verona
After five seasons and 105 goals for Juventus, Rossi moved to Hellas Verona in 1982. In his first season, he scored 13 goals as Verona captured their first and only Serie A title in 1984. The following season, Rossi helped Verona win the Coppa Italia before leaving the club in 1985.
Final seasons with Milan and Hellas Verona
Rossi joined Milan after leaving Verona in 1985 but made just 5 appearances for the club, failing to score a single goal. This spell brought his career full circle as he rejoined his first club, Vicenza (formerly Lanerossi Vicenza) for a season before returning to Verona for his final season as a player.
In a 15-year club career, Rossi made 477 appearances and scored 233 goals, winning 2 league titles, 1 European Cup, 1 Cup Winners’ Cup and 2 Coppa Italia trophies. He also won 2 Capocannoniere (Serie A Golden Boot) awards and the 1982 Ballon d’Or.
Paolo Rossi’s International Career for Italy
Rossi made his debut for Italy in 1977 and was subsequently selected for the 1978 World Cup squad. He scored 3 goals in the tournament including a hat-trick against Hungary. Italy reached the semi-finals where they lost to Netherlands and had to settle for 4th place.
Scandal and Redemption at 1982 World Cup
In 1980, Rossi was handed a three-year ban for his alleged involvement in the Totonero match-fixing scandal. After an appeal, his suspension was reduced which allowed him to return just in time for the 1982 World Cup.
Despite a slow start in the first group games, Rossi came alive in the knockout rounds. He scored a hat-trick against Brazil, both goals against Poland in the semis and opened the scoring in the final against West Germany. His 6 goals won him the Golden Boot and his exploits led Italy to their first World Cup title since 1938.
For his integral role in Italy’s victorious campaign, Rossi also received the Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament. The 1982 World Cup cemented his legacy as a legend of Italian football.
Later International Career
After the highs of 1982, Rossi had a disappointing 1984 European Championship as the defending champions Italy crashed out in the group stages.
Rossi played his final game for Italy in 1985 and ended his international career with 48 caps and 20 goals, averaging a goal every 2.4 games.
Paolo Rossi’s Playing Style and Goalscoring Prowess
Rossi was an opportunistic goalscorer renowned for his excellent attacking movement and ability to find space in the penalty area. He had an innate ability to get into dangerous positions and finish chances with clinical precision.
His excellent technique allowed him to score from any angle or distance and he could use both feet as well as his head. Rossi was truly a versatile and well-rounded finisher.
Off the Ball Intelligence
While not the quickest or strongest physically, Rossi was gifted with tremendous football intelligence and awareness. He knew how to find pockets of space by making clever runs and take up goalscoring positions.
This intelligence, combined with his work ethic and drive, made him a nightmare for defenders as he was always on the move, looking to exploit any openings and gaps in the backline before sliding in to finish ruthlessly.
Rossi was more than just a goalscorer and also linked up well with his teammates thanks to his technical ability. He could hold up the ball and bring others into play with his movement and passing.
As his career progressed, Rossi developed into more of a complete forward capable of creating chances and building attacks from deeper positions as well as getting on the end of chances inside the box.
Durability and Work Ethic
Despite his lean physique, Rossi worked tirelessly for the team and had great stamina and durability. His work rate and determination made him a handful for 90 minutes. He also had an excellent injury record and fitness levels for most of his career which allowed him to play so consistently at the highest level.
The tenacity and relentless desire he showed to keep making runs and getting into goalscoring areas made him such a handful for defenders. This was all underpinned by his outstanding technical attributes which enabled him to be so prolific in front of goal.
Paolo Rossi’s Net Worth, Salary and Endorsements
According to multiple reports, Paolo Rossi had an estimated net worth of approximately $12 million at the time of his death in 2020. As one of the most famous Italian footballers of his generation, he earned significant amounts from both his playing career as well as endorsements and business activities post-retirement.
His best playing contract was likely at Juventus where he was the club’s star striker during a highly successful period in the late 1970s and early 80s. As a World Cup winner, Champions League winner and 2x Serie A Capocannoniere, Rossi’s peak earnings as a player would have been substantial.
After retirement, Rossi worked as a TV pundit but also had lucrative endorsement deals with brands like Adidas and Coca Cola. He invested in real estate including hotels and holiday resorts. Rossi also earned from appearances and speaking engagements where he shared his World Cup memories and insights into the game.
Combined with prudent investments, these post-playing career activities allowed Paolo Rossi to build a personal fortune estimated to be worth around $12 million upon his passing. The bulk of his estate was likely inherited by his wife and three children.
In conclusion, Paolo Rossi left an indelible mark on Italian and world football thanks to his goalscoring exploits for both club and country. His lethal finishing ability, intelligent movement and work ethic made him one of the most prolific strikers of his generation.
Rossi enjoyed great success at domestic level, winning multiple league titles, cups and individual scoring awards. But it was at the 1982 World Cup where he cemented his legacy, leading Italy to glory with his 6 goals and all-round performances which also earned him the Golden Ball.
Off the pitch, Rossi lived a full life with a loving family and succeeded in business pursuits like real estate after his playing days were over. His death in 2020 was mourned by the global football community who fondly remember his World Cup heroics and the enduring image of Rossi holding aloft the Jules Rimet trophy, Italy’s number 20 on his back.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Paolo Rossi
Rossi was a forward who usually played as a striker or central attacking player where he could make use of his excellent goalscoring instincts inside the penalty area. He was also capable of playing in a deeper role later in his career.
How many goals did Rossi score for Italy?
Rossi scored 20 goals for Italy in 48 appearances between 1977 to 1985, averaging an impressive goal ratio of 0.42 per game. His most prolific tournament was the 1982 World Cup where he scored 6 goals.
What major trophies did Rossi win?
At club level, Rossi won 2 Serie A titles, 1 European Cup, 1 Cup Winners Cup and 2 Coppa Italia trophies. For the national team, he was part of Italy’s 1982 World Cup winning side. Individually he was voted 1982 Ballon d’Or winner and won 2 Serie A Capocannoniere Golden Boot awards (1977-78, 1981-82).
When and how did Paolo Rossi die?
Rossi passed away on 9th December 2020 at the age of 64 after losing his battle with lung cancer. He died at the Bufalini Hospital in Italy with his wife Federica by his side.
What are some fond memories of Paolo Rossi’s career?
Some of the fondest memories include Rossi’s hat-trick against Brazil in the classic 1982 World Cup clash, his Ballon d’Or victory in 1982, winning the Golden Boot at the 1982 World Cup with 6 goals, forming a lethal partnership with Roberto Bettega at Juventus and winning the Serie A Golden Boot in 1977-78 and 1981-82.