NEW DELHI: Football great Paolo Rossi, who died of lung cancer aged 64 on December 9, won the Italian Serie A twice and the European Cup once in his illustrious career, but the tournament that he is most widely associated with, for good reason, is the 1982 World Cup.
He scored six times in a performance that made him one of just three players in the history of the World Cup to win the Golden Boot and Golden Ball together. To cap it off, he went on to win the coveted Ballon d’Or later in 1982.
Just two years prior to that tournament, however, it looked like Rossi might not be available for selection at all as he was one of several people who got punished for the 1980 betting scandal that incriminated as many as 13 clubs accross the top two divisions of Italy.
Rossi was suspended for three years but it was reduced to two after he pleaded innocence. He maintained that he had no involvement in the scandal for the rest of his life.
The forward had said in a 2018 documentary by FIFA that when you win something as important as the World Cup, it comes to encompass more than just that trophy. “It’s about the group you win it with, it’s about your entire career that took you there. It’s about your personal redemption,” he said.
The deluge of tributes that came with the news of his death, both in Italy and around the world, meant that Rossi had done far more than just redeem himself.