Late Rossi and Maradona as heroes of 1982, 1986 world cup: Part I
The deaths of the Italian Paolo Rossi and Argentine Diego Maradona, the two major footballers who made a huge difference in the 1982 and 1986 world cup respectively, within a space of 15 days, shook the football world to its foundation.
While Maradona died on November 25 2020, Rossi’s death was on December 9 2020.
In fact, it is on record that Rossi single handedly made the difference that resulted in Italy winning the world cup in 1982.
Four years after in 1986 Maradonna replicated the same form, in even a more amazing way to win the cup for Argentina.
A look at the similarities of their performance during the respective periods showed that Rossi won the Golden ball in 1982, while Maradona was the winner of the same award in 1986.
On the road to winning the cup for Italy in 1982, Rossi scored all 3 goals against Brazil in their quarter final 3-2 win, further scoring the 2 goals against Poland in semi final as they won 2-0 and was also on hand to score the first goal in Italy’s final game 3-1 victory against Germany.
Following the same pattern of the Italian four years after, Maradonna in the quarter final of the 1986 world cup scored two wonderful goals against England in their 2-1 win, he equally scored another 2 goals in their 2-0 semi final win against Belgium and passed to his team mate, Jorge Luis Burruchaga to score the last goal in Argentina’s 3-2 win against Germany in the final game.
Below is the exclusive profile of these late legendary footballers, described by many people as the most efficient players of the 1982 and 1986 World Cup seasons respectively:
Paolo Rossi was born on September 23 1956 at Prato, Italy and he unfortunately died on December 9 2020 at Siena, Italy at the age of 64.
He was an Italian professional footballer who played as a forward. In 1982, he led Italy to the 1982 FIFA World Cup title, scoring six goals to win the Golden Boot as top goalscorer, and the Golden Ball for the player of the tournament.
It was said that Rossi emerged from two years in the wilderness to play a starring role in the Azzurri’s third world crown.
The Italian coach then considered taking Paolo Rossi to the 1982 World Cup as a big risk, because the striker had just returned from a two-year playing ban after being implicated in a betting scandal.
However, to the surprise of the world few weeks later Rossi departed with the Golden Boot, Golden Ball and the World Cup after his six goals inspired the Azzurri’s victory. Thereafter nobody seemed to be talking about the risky choices anymore.
in as much as Rossi is best remembered for his performance in the 1982 World Cup competition, he had shot to prominence four years earlier in Argentina, scoring three goals and providing two assists. Although Italy defeated the hosts earlier in the tournament, they eventually missed out on a place in the final after being eliminated by Holland in the second phase.
After the 1978 football contest in Argentina the intervening years were not kind to him as he was hit with a three-year playing ban which was later reduced to two. Rossi returned to action in May 1982 with the World Cup in Spain barely a month away.
But in spite of his lack of playing time Rossi was an automatic starter as Italy limped through the first group phase with three consecutive draws. He featured again when Italy beat Argentina in the second group but after four games Rossi still hadn’t got on the scoresheet.
The Italian press notoriously known for its demanding ways was calling for his head, but it was here that Rossi’s close relationship with Enzo Bearzot came to the fore.
“The fact that Bearzot trusted me was fundamental,” said Rossi in FIFA interview years later.
According to him: “Bearzot believed in me and was sure I would come through at the right time. When I started playing again after two years out it was really, really tough and Bearzot’s trust was very important.”
The final group game against Brazil was the time his faith repaid him when Rossi silenced all his critics with a sensational and amazing hat-trick. The first goal came early as Rossi nodded home from close range, his second was a bullet strike which punished some slack Brazil defending, while his third was an instinctive poacher’s effort.
With the dispatch of Brazil known at that time as the favourites, Rossi became the darling of the Italian media, ‘Pablito’ as he was popularly called added a brace in the semi-final against Poland to set up a final encounter with West Germany. Italy were 90 minutes away from their first World Cup since 1938 with Rossi very much the inspiration.
Again as many predicted, Rossi who was popular with his number 20 shirt opened the scoring in the second half, sending president Sandro Pertini into raptures with his close range opener. Once again the ‘fox in the box’ had delivered when it mattered most and Italy went on to win 3-1.
The stats of Rossi in 1982 showed how sharp he was as he netted his six goals from just seven shots on target, posting a 46% goals to shots conversion rate overall. Just one of his goals from his 13 shots overall came from outside the area. The ultimate penalty box striker in other words.
Apart from the Impressive statistics, what mattered more to the people after the 1982 tournament was the fact that Rossi had secured his place in the annals of World Cup history with his very own renaissance story.