“I would like people to picture one thing when they remember me:
the image of me in the Azzurri shirt and with my arms aloft.”
A world champion who made Italy dream, the late Paolo Rossi was the hero of Italy’s 1982 FIFA World Cup victory, earning him his place as one of the world’s greats.
His life and career are at the heart of this exhibition, as are the memories of his family, friends and team-mates.
Rossi made 48 appearances in a ten-year career for the Azzurri, scoring 20 goals – nine of them at the World Cups in 1978 and 1982. He made his international debut against Belgium in the build-up to the 1978 finals in Argentina and won his final cap in May 1986. Although he was part of the Italy squad at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, an injury meant he was an unused substitute.
Rossi scored his first goal for Italy at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. Four years later came one of the most famous games in the history of Italian football – the 3-2 victory over Brazil on 5 July 1982 at the Sarrià Stadium in Barcelona. Having hit a hat-trick to dump red-hot favourites Brazil out of the tournament, Rossi followed that up by scoring both goals in the 2-0 win over Poland in the semi-finals. In the Final at the Bernabéu against West Germany, he scored the opener as Italy claimed the title with a 3-1 victory.
Paolo Rossi remains the only player to lift the World Cup trophy while winning the Golden Ball for the best player and the Golden Shoe as the top scorer. Moreover, he is one of just two players to score a hat-trick against Brazil at the World Cup. 1982 was his year and the legend lives on.
Rossi always remained open and approachable during and after his career, right through to his death in 2020. Rossi had three children and was married twice: to Simonetta Rizzato and then in 2010 to the journalist and author Federica Cappelletti.
Rossi was a regular on television as a football analyst, while in the last ten years of his life, he and Federica were active in opening academies for young players. After his death, Federica and Rossi’s wider family created the Paolo Rossi Foundation to offer scholarships for young footballers and help cancer patients during their treatment.
Paolo Rossi was a great collector; anything from football shirts and other mementos of his career, to stamps, newspaper articles and much more. In accordance with his will, players past and present were asked to donate an object to the Paolo Rossi Foundation, some of which are shown in the exhibition.