13 October 2020
Happy Birthday to Paolo Rossi!The mercurial “Pablito” is 46 today, winner of the 1982 World Cup in Spain, Ballon d’Or, member of Italian football’s Hall of Fame
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
It is Paolo Rossi’s birthday today; a star of Italian football, he won both the World Cup in Spain and the Ballon d’Or in 1982, in what was a magical year for the Azzurri.
Born in Prato on 23 September 1956, he joined Juventus at the age of 16 before being loaned to Como in 1975, with whom he made his Serie A debut.
He made the switch to Vicenza the season after and his career exploded. He led the Biancorossi to promotion to the top flight, ending the season as top scorer in Serie B with 21 goals. He improved further the season after, scoring 24 times in the top flight as the Venetian side finished second in Serie A, the club’s highest ever finish.
After two more fantastic seasons - the first with Vicenza and the second with Perugia in 1981, he returned to Juventus. With the Bianconeri he won two Scudetti, one Coppa Italia, one European Cup, one Cup Winners Cup and one European Supercup. He ended his club career with Hellas Verona after the 1986/87 season.
His story with the National Team began on 21 December 1977 with a friendly against Belgium in Liege, which Italy won 1-0. His first goal for the Azzurri came in his third game; his strike was the equaliser in the 2-1 win over France at the 1978 World Cup. He scored four in total during that tournament in Argentina, but the real outstanding performance came four years later in Spain.
Rossi was one of the key figures in Bearzot’s Italy side as they won the title. His hat-trick against Brazil - his first goals in the tournament - remains unforgettable, as do his brace against Poland in the semi-final and the opener in the final against West Germany. That year, Rossi also won a Ballon d’Or to go along with his World Cup winner’s medal in what was a truly phenomenal year.
His final appearance for Italy came in a friendly against China on 11 May 1986. He was selected for the World Cup squad in Mexico, but didn’t feature on the pitch. In total, he made 48 appearances with the Azzurri, scoring 20 goals.