President Gravina’s open letter to Paolo Rossi, whose funeral was held today“We’ll forever remember him with his arms aloft, a smile on his face and the Italian flag in his heart.”
Saturday, December 12, 2020
On the day of his funeral, FIGC President Gabriele Gravina remembered one of the greatest ever icons of Italian football by writing the following open letter.
It’s as if Paolo Rossi has taken a ball away with him.
And, with it, a part of Italy too. That Italy which sat in front of the TV to watch the National Team play, that Italy which didn’t share its emotions on social media but through hugs of delight following all of his goals. That Italy where flags fluttered outside windows and horns beeped loudly, an outward expression of the joy felt following those victories – one after the other – that have gone down in history.
It’s as if Paolo Rossi has taken the summer away with him.
A summer of love, of ball games, of grandmothers' patterned tablecloths, of races home to watch matches beginning in the early afternoon and which, in certain respects, never came to an end. Because no one will forget them. Never. Just like so many won’t forget the way the eyes of family members and friends lit up as Pablito scored three against Brazil. And then there was the R for Replay, which flashed on screens throughout the country to the rhythm of the beating hearts of all those viewers, people, Italians.
It’s as if Paolo Rossi has taken the 1980s away with him.
And, with that, monochrome TV sets, cassette players, long holidays spent together under the same large beach umbrella. All together, like we were during that World Cup. The World Cup. The World Cup where draws and criticism were followed by a rebirth. A rebirth involving class, man-marking, a sacrificial spirit and real and authentic leaders. The Italy of Gaetano Scirea, Dino Zoff and all the others. The Italy of Sandro Pertini, who rose to his feet and didn’t hold back. The Italy who refused to believe that their dreams could go up in smoke. The only smoke was that coming from the pipe of a Coach who had the whole team on his side.
In an instant, as fast as one of his goals, Paolo Rossi has taken away all of this. But in his haste – because true marksmen always do things very quickly – he left behind one thing: his memory. The memory of that summer, that fantastic summer that we all enjoyed thanks to the goals of a man who we’ll forever remember with his arms aloft, a smile on his face and the Italian flag in his heart.
Paolo Rossi! Paolo Rossi! Paolo Rossi!