Paolo Rossi

“Competition has always been in my DNA. But winning is not enough, you have to know how to do it”

Paolo Rossi is one of the hundred best players of the twentieth century, according to the rankings published by World Soccer magazine. FIFA 100, the list of the 125 greatest Pelé players selected by Pelé (Pelé is the first in the ranking of the best players of the century), and FIFA, on its 100th anniversary (2004). Pele himself, seeing him play as a young man at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, said he was “Strong and smart, worthy to play in Brazil.”

Paolo Rossi alza la Coppa del Mondo nel 1982With 82 goals in ten seasons of Serie A and 215 games, Rossi worn the Italian National Team from 1976 to 1986, participating in three World Cups (Argentina, Spain and Mexico).

Paolo Rossi, with Roberto Baggio and Christian Vieri, holds the record among the Italian footballers of goals scored in the World Cup: 9. And it is the only Italian player with Paolo Baldieri to score in five consecutive matches with the national jersey Under-21.

Paolo Rossi is also the only player, with Mario Kempes (1978) and Ronaldo (2002), who won the same year (1982): the World Cup, the title of World Cup Scorer, Golden Boot and the Gold Ball of the World Cup. Paolo Rossi is also one of the four Italian footballers who have won the Golden Ball: with him Gianni Rivera (1969), Roberto Baggio (1993) and Fabio Cannavaro (2006), while he is the only Italian to win the Golden Ball of the World Cup

Paolo Rossi con il pallone d'oro nel 1982Again in the same year, 1982, Rossi also won the Onze d’Or.

Paolo Rossi is the only man in the world who scored three goals in Brazil in the same game.

“My idol was Kurt Hamrin, a striker among the greatest in the history of football. In the 1958 World Cup Kurt missed the final against Brazil. That Brazil that ,I only, bent …. I found Hamrin after years and he became my admirer”.

Born in Prato on September 23rd, 1956, Paolo Rossi started playing football at age 6. A pastime with friends that has become a passion. With long days running behind the ball, first at the oratory, then in a square of Prato, Santa Lucia, where his talents emerged as a football player. And day after day his little boy’s life was divided between school and sport. From Santa Lucia he then went to the Ambrosiana, always in Prato, and again at Cattolica Virtus in Florence, until 1972 at the age of 16, when the Juventus manager at the time Italo Allodi, head of the youth sector, together with Luciano Moggi , already talent scout at Juve, they noticed the young Paolo Rossi in a Chieti tournament, and despite the fact that their parents were not convinced of leaving their boy out of the house, allowing him to live in another city alone, where he did not know anyone, Juve did everything to be able to have he in his team and they succeeded.

“I was 16 years old. My mom was worried about my studies. Ever since I was a kid she always said, ‘Boy, if you stop studying for football …’ From one day to another I left my house, my family, my city, my friends, my certainty. But it was then that I really grew up, that I became a man, and that I started pursuing the Dream. Yes, I pursued my dream of becoming a footballer, but I never disappointed my parents’ expectations: even though football has become my profession, I have never abandoned my studies”.

Paolo Rossi was not one of those footballers with a body prepared for football. As soon as he was called by Juve, he suffered several injuries and three meniscus interventions that kept him far from the pitch for two seasons, delaying his debut in Serie A. But despite that, he did not become discouraged and never stopped believing in his Dream. And on May 1st, 1974, not yet eighteen, he started to play in the first team at a Coppa Italia match. A great conquest, one of the youngest in the history of football. In 1976 he moved to Vicenza, Serie B. Still young, he left his indelible imprint with 21 goals in just one season, managed to bring his team to Serie A. Of his coach, at the time, Giovan Battista Fabbri, known as GB, Paolo Rossi says: “He kept the ranks of the whole environment, he made sure that there was a great cohesion between us football players. From the football point of view, it was he who made me pass from wing to center, changing my career so significantly. But in general, he was like a father for me, I owe him a lot. It’s been a guide for me, it’s a model that has left an indelible mark on me, and that we should all replicate.”

The next season I was chosen to enter the Italian National Team. Paolo Rossi recounts his first game in Blue jersey, his passion, his heart: “Although it was an exhibition match, it was no doubt one of the strongest emotions I have ever experienced. Wearing for the first time the blue jersey was a great satisfaction, a tangible proof that the dream had come true. Dream was already real. But it was not just that: I remember when the first notes of the national anthem began: I was not there for myself, just for my Dream. I was representing Italy as a whole.”

In addition to the important international awards, Paolo Rossi has twice been top scorer (1976-77, 1977-78) with Lanerossi Vicenza, the top scorer at the 1982 World Cup in Spain with the Italian National team 6 goals and top scorer in the Champions League (1982-83). In addition, during the years with Juventus he won: the Italian Championship 1981-1982 and 1983-1984, the 1982-1984 Italian Cup, the 1983-1984 Cup of Cups, the 1984 Supercup and the 1984-1985 Champions League.


Paolo Rossi tra Giancarlo Antognoni e Gabriele Oriali alla Premiazione della Hall of Fame della FIGC“What is your strength?” He was asked. Maybe I was the first quick and fast-paced one, who had in his intuitions his main talent, coupled with an overwhelming technique. One of the secrets of my success was to play intelligently, always thinking of what to do one second before the ball came to me, just to fill in the lack of excellent physical qualities. Playing in advance was a great prerogative, always trying to steal my opponent’s time, taking advantage of my opportunistic skills: I was always trying to exploit every small mistake of defenders by placing myself at the right place at the right time. Gianni Rivera, who was born to play the ball, says: “For me football is being at the right place at the right time. That’s why Paolo Rossi is THE football.” That is how Paolo Rossi became a myth, a football player who all feared 

In the 1982 Spanish World Cup, Brazil was devastated, defeated before the semi-finals by what would be remembered as “Pablito, Carrasco do Brasil”.

“Paolorossi” won the invincible, and that day went down in history as “The tragedy of the Sarrià”.

Zico, one of the Brazilian national team players of 82, still in 2012, thirty years after that match (Italy-Brazil 1982), reiterated that Italy’s victory over Brazil, thanks to Paolo Rossi, changed the way how to play Brazilian football: since then, Brazil has changed tactics of attack and defense. Paolo Rossi once again had left the world-wide mark.

Rossi is described in one of the many books dedicated to him: “Paolo Rossi has the clerical air, has the air of who he is playing with his friends. Compared to some of the champions of football, he did not have the body structure, but referring to him it was coined one of the brightest expressions of the football jargon: the snout of the goal, the special talent to be at the right place at the right time for a single touc.h First intention, apparently simple, decisive. Then to rejoice, without exalting. Paolo Rossi represents the pure football intelligence”.

Paolo Rossi is actually a real phenomenon of the football history. A living Legend.The notorious and well-known sports journalist Giorgio Tosatti called him “a mixture of Nureyev and Manolete, a player with the dancer’s grace and the ruthless coolness of the bullfighter”. Paolo Rossi is a rarity. One of his chairmen, Giussy Farina, said he bought and ripped off Juventus: “If sport is like art, Paolo Rossi is the Mona Lisa of our football”. During the years of activity he was challenged by all the Italian teams.

Paolo Rossi has realized not only his Dream but that of a whole nation.

1973-1975 Juventus 0 (0)
1975-1976 → Como 6 (0)
1976-1979 L.R. Vicenza 94 (60)
1979-1980 → Perugia 28 (13)
1981-1985 Juventus 83 (24)
1985-1986 Milan 20 (2)
1986-1987 Verona 20 (4)
1976-1978 Italia Italia U-21 10 (5)
1977-1986 Italia Italia 48 (20)
1 The two numbers indicate the appearances and the goals scored, for only league games.
The → symbol indicates a loan transfer.

“He invented football with lightning intuitions, harmonious bumps, unpredictable shots, frontal impacts with bouncing balls, quick and dull touches like bites of an aspis. It is the surprise of the goal every time exciting, the amazement of serene grace in stages of agitated and often brutal agonism. All this was Paolo Rossi for those who love football and prefers it to any other game on earth”. 

“He inaugurated a module of great grandeur in Buenos Aires ’78, he earnestly rewarded those who wanted to believe in him until Madrid ’82. We are all debtors to him of unforgettable emotions”.

Tribute by Gianni Brera to Paolo Rossi