Skip to main content
Welcome to
super saver spring
offer ends april 20
save over $140
save over 85%
$0.99
per week for 24 weeks
Welcome to
super saver spring
$0.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Paolo Rossi is embraced by a Juventus fan after winning the European Champions Cup on May 30, 1985.

The Associated Press

Paolo Rossi, who led Italy to the 1982 World Cup title and later worked as a soccer commentator in his home country, has died after a long illness. He was 64.

Rossi’s wife, Federica Cappelletti, said Thursday he died in her arms. She said Rossi died in his sleep at the hospital after she promised him she would care for their children and assuring him that he “had already done so much.”

“He didn’t want to go, but I hugged him hard and I told him, `Paolo, now go. Enough, you’ve suffered enough. Now leave this body,”' she said. “And then he went to sleep.”

Story continues below advertisement

Cappelletti spoke to reporters outside the La Scotta hospital in Siena, where Rossi had been treated over the past year and where family members gathered Thursday. State-run RAI television, where Rossi worked as a sportscaster, said he had been diagnosed with an incurable illness.

Cappelletti had announced the death on Instagram, posting a picture of the couple with the caption “Per sempre,” Italian for “Forever.”

In a Facebook post, Cappelletti added: “There will never be another one like you, unique, special, after you there is absolute nothingness.”

Rossi had a remarkable career comeback, leading Italy to the World Cup title after returning from a suspension following a betting scandal in 1980.

He scored six goals at the tournament in Spain, including a hat trick in a 3-2 win over Brazil and the opening goal in a 3-1 win over West Germany in the final. He was also voted FIFA player of the year in 1982.

The Italian soccer federation said it would fly flags at half-staff in a sign of mourning.

“We have lost a friend and an icon of our soccer,” federation president Gabriele Gravina said. “He took an entire country by the hand, which rejoiced in the streets, for him and with him. He is permanently linked to the Azzurri and has inspired generations of forwards with his style.”

Story continues below advertisement

Italian president Sergio Mattarella also offered his condolences for Rossi’s “premature” passing.

“Remembering his courtesy and his humanity, I express condolences and closeness to his family,” the Italian head of state said in a statement.

Former teammate Stefano Collovati told RAI Radio 1 that he received the news from the phone chat used by the 1982 team members, many of whom expressed devastation at Rossi’s passing.

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

Rossi won two Serie A titles and a European Cup while playing for Juventus. He also played for AC Milan before moving into sportscasting at Italy’s top networks.

RAI sports presenter Enrico Varriale, who worked with Rossi, posted on Twitter about the star forward’s death.

Story continues below advertisement

“Very sad news: Paolo Rossi left us,” Varriale wrote. “Unforgettable Pablito, who made us all fall in love in that summer of ’82 and who has been a precious and competent workmate at RAI in recent years. RIP dear Paolo.”

In a statement, Serie A president Paolo Dal Pino said the Italian league was in mourning.

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

Cappelletti said a memorial service was planned for Vincenza and that Rossi’s remains would be cremated, a decision she took in agreement with their children.

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

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies