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Paulo Rossi, the heartbeat of Italy’s 1982 World Cup win, passes away

Paulo Rossi
Rossi scored a famous hat-trick against Brazil in the 1982 World Cup (Picture Source: Twitter)

A striker revered by the Italian nation more than most footballers in the country, Paulo Rossi breathed his last on what will be a somber Thursday to wake up to. He was 64 and his death was confirmed by Italian TV Channel RAI Sport, Rossi’s current employer as a pundit. He was survived by a wife and three kids.

“A very sad news: Paulo Rossi left us. Unforgettable Pablito, who made us all fall in love in that summer of 1982 and has been a precious and competent workmate at RAI in recent years. RIP dear Paulo,” Enrico Varriale, Sports Presenter at RAI, tweeted. Tributes started pouring in on Twitter, despite the news breaking at a very odd hour, with German striker Klinsmann being one of the first.

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Golden Boot, Golden Ball, World Cup winner – He did it all!

Paulo Rossi had some memorable spells in club football with Juventus and LR Vicenza. But he was best remembered for his heroics in the 1982 World Cup, where he scored six goals, becoming only the third player in history to win the grand trio of a World Cup-winning medal, Golden Boot and Golden Ball, joining an elite company of Garrincha (1962) and Mario Kempes (1978).

Among the many great memories from that World Cup, what people remember most fondly, even more so than the goal in the final against West Germany, was his hat-trick against Brazil, which knocked the hot-favorites out in the second group stages.

Rossi scored in the fifth minute of the game, and saw Socrates equalize almost immediately. However, Rossi scored again in the 25th minute capitalizing on a defensive howler but much to the disappointment of the Italians, Brazil found a way to equalize again in the second half. In what turned out to be one of the greatest World Cup matches of all time, Rossi completed a hat-trick with a good finish from close range, and won his side the game 3-2.

Italy went on to beat West Germany in the final 3-1, with Rossi scoring the opener again. His goal-tally of 9 in World Cups is the highest among Italians, on par with Roberto Baggio and Christian Vieri.

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