Paolo Rossi is number 45 in 90min's Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time series. 


Paolo Rossi. An icon. A natural goalscorer. A Ballon d'Or lifter. A World Cup winner.


The Italian striker is remembered for his six goals in Spain during the 1982 World Cup, which helped his nation celebrate their third success on the biggest stage of all. 


But that was only the pinnacle of a long and fruitful career, spanning over 15 years. 


90min takes a trip down memory lane with Italian bomber Paolo Rossi.


Vicenza Fairytale

We all love a good fairytale in football, so how about this one? Rossi made his name as a prolific scorer in Serie B for lowly Vicenza, and his goals fired them to a dramatic promotion to the big time in 1976/77. The question was, could Rossi replicate this form at the highest level.


The short answer is, yes. The Vicenza forward scored an incredible 24 goals in 30 matches, finishing the season as Serie A's top marksman, and helping his side claim an unthinkable second-place finish. The Vicenza story didn't have its happy ending, but it was fun while it lasted. 


Second Serie A Title 

But wait, why is Rossi's second title a bigger achievement than his first? Well, the Juventus forward picked up a controversial ban from football for match-fixing in 1980, and he did not compete again until his punishment was lifted in 1982. ​Juventus decided to sign the striker, who made three appearances at the end of the season, helping his teammates to clinch the title. Not a huge contribution, then. 


The 1983-84 campaign was where Rossi really left his mark in the black and white of Juventus, scoring 13 goals (which was still impressive in Italy back in those days) and helping I Bianconeri lift the league trophy. It was his final Scudetto, and one that his career truly merited. 


European Success

Although Rossi was beyond his peak in the 1984/85 season, he wasn't finished just yet. Despite only scoring three goals over the entire league campaign for I Bianconeri, the Ballon d'Or winner did make his mark in the European Cup. 


Rossi was vital to Juventus' success in the big competition (especially in the early rounds) bagging five goals in his ten appearances. The Turin club went on to lift the big trophy at the end of the season for the first time in their history, beating ​Liverpool 1-0 in the final. 


Bagging in The World Cup Final 

What does every boy dream of when they are growing up? That's right - scoring a crucial goal in a World Cup final. Enter, Paolo Rossi. We find ourselves in the 1982 final, and Italy are up against a talented West Germany side. 


Having dispatched five goals in his last two games, the Italian superstar was the man in form, and he opened the scoring with a brilliant stooping header - a blow from which the West Germans never recovered. It was a typically emphatic and ruthless finish from Rossi, who was the ultimate 'right place, right time' forward. A great moment in football history, and one which ultimately earned the striker the prestigious Ballon d'Or award.  


Hat-Trick Against Brazil

It just had to be, didn't it? Some may argue that scoring a goal in the World Cup final is the biggest achievement of Rossi's career, but frankly, without his incredible treble against football heavyweights Brazil, there would be no header against West Germany. This is the moment that Rossi exploded into life at the 1982 World Cup, and began etching Italy's name on the historic trophy. 


A victory was the only result that would allow Italy to progress to the World Cup semi-final, and arguably the greatest team in the land was standing in their way. I Nerazzurri looked set to bow out graciously under the Spanish sun. But not on Paolo's watch! Rossi found a timely return to form and tore the Brazil defence apart, tucking away an early header and a further two clinical finishes to earn Italy a shock 3-2 win. 


We all know that Italy went on to lift the trophy, and that's why Rossi will always be remembered as one of the very best to play the game. Bravo Paolo.


90min's 'Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time' can be found here


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