Italian soccer legend Paolo Rossi dies aged 64 | Italy

Paolo Rossi, Italy’s top scorer from its victorious 1982 World Cup and scorer of a hat-trick against Brazil in one of the most famous games in the history of the competition, has passed away at the age of 64.

The death of the celebrated striker comes with the football world still grieving for Argentine icon Diego Maradona, who passed away late last month.

The Italian television broadcaster RAI Sport, where Rossi had worked as an expert, said on Thursday that “Pablito” died of an “incurable disease”.

Rossi’s wife Federica Cappelletti posted a photo of herself and her husband on Instagram, along with the words “per semper” – “forever”.

Cappelletti said he died in her arms. She said Rossi died in his sleep in the hospital after promising him that she would take care of her children and assured him that he “had already done so much”.

Italy’s 1982 World Cup winning team, Rossi second from right [File: AP]“He didn’t want to go, but I hugged him tightly and said to him: ‘Paolo, now go. Enough, you’ve suffered enough. Now leave this body, ” she said. “And then he went to sleep.”

“There will never be someone like you, unique, special,” Cappelletti later wrote in Italian on Facebook.

Italian Football Federation (FIGC) President Gabriele Gravina said Rossi was “inextricably linked to the blue shirt and that his style of play has inspired many strikers of future generations”.

Rossi made a notable career comeback, leading Italy to the world title after returning from suspension in 1980 following a betting scandal.

He scored six goals in the tournament in Spain, including a hat trick in a 3-2 win over Brazil and the first goal in a 3-1 win over West Germany in the final.

He was awarded the Ballon d’Or in 1982 and was named the best player in Europe.

Rossi won two Serie A titles and a European Cup when he played for Juventus. He also played for AC Milan before moving to the top Italian broadcasters.

‘Lost an Icon’

The FIGC said it would raise flags against half of the staff in a token of mourning.

“We lost a friend and an icon of our football,” said Gravina from FIGC.

“He took a whole country by the hand, which was happy in the streets, for him and with him. He is permanently associated with the Azzurri and has inspired generations of strikers with his style. “

The Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte expressed his condolences and posted on Twitter that Rossi is a player who “with his goals in the summer of 1982 gave whole generations a dream”.

The Italian Paolo Rossi was challenged on June 14, 1978 by the German Berti Vogts [File: Daily Mirror/Getty Images]Former teammate Fulvio Collovati told RAI Radio 1 that he had received the team members’ phone chat messages from 1982, many of whom expressed their devastation over Rossi’s death.

“I heard it five minutes ago. I’m so sorry. It was out of the blue, ”former teammate Dino Zoff told ANSA news agency. “It’s been a while since we hadn’t spoken, he had said something, but we didn’t think it was that serious.”

RAI sports presenter Enrico Varriale, who worked with Rossi, reported on the death of the star striker on Twitter.

“Very sad news: Paolo Rossi has left us,” wrote Varriale. “Unforgettable Pablito, who made us all fall in love in the summer of 1982 and who has been a valuable and competent employee at RAI in recent years. RIP dear Paolo. “

The Italian Paolo Rossi (right) was attacked by the Poland Stefan Majewski in 1982 during a World Cup match in Vigo, Spain [File: AP]In a statement, Serie A President Paolo Dal Pino said the Italian league is in mourning.

“Paolo Rossi made us proud to be Italian,” said Dal Pino. “He was the hero of all of us.”

Cappelletti said a memorial service was planned in Vicenza and that Rossi’s remains would be cremated, a decision she made in agreement with her children.

“I want him close to me forever,” she said.

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