Paolo Rossi, one of the greatest Italian soccer players of all-time, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 64, according to Jacob Lev of CNN. At this time no cause of death has been disclosed.
Rossi is best known for his exceptional play during the 1982 World Cup in Spain. Rossi led Italy to their third World Cup title ever, and in the process won the Golden Boot and Golden Ball. The Golden Boot is presented to the top goal scorer of the World Cup, and the Golden Ball is presented to the top player of the tournament.
In fact, Rossi is one of only three players ever to win the Golden Boot, Golden Ball, and World Cup in the same year. The others were Brazil’s Garrincha in 1962, and Argentina’s Mario Kempes in 1978.
Rossi had six goals in the 1982 World Cup, as Italy defeated West Germany 3-1 in the final from Madrid. His most notable game came in a 3-2 Italy win over Brazil in a Group C matchup. In this contest, Rossi scored all three of Italy’s goals in the fifth, 25th, and 74th minutes. Rossi then scored both of Italy’s goals in their 2-0 win over Poland in the semi-final, and then opened the scoring in the 57th minute of the 1982 World Cup Final.
Rossi had 20 goals in 48 games for Italy overall. The striker also had three goals for Italy at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. All three of Rossi’s goals from his first World Cup appearance came in Italian wins–a 2-1 win over France, a 3-1 win over Hungary, and a 1-0 win over Austria. Italy finished fourth overall in the 1978 World Cup after a 2-1 loss to the Netherlands in Group A action, and a 2-1 loss to Brazil in the third place game. Rossi finished his career with nine World Cup goals, the most ever by an Italian at the World Cup.
At the club level, Rossi played for Como, Lanerossi Vicenza, Perugia, Juventus, A.C. Milan, and Hellas Verona from 1975 to 1987. He had 103 goals in 251 games. Rossi’s finest season came with Lanerossi Vicenza in 1977-78, as he had 26 goals in 34 games.