To most people Roberto Baggio is the most gifted Italian player in living memory. Today is his birthday.
Known for his luxurious skill, mental strength and questionable hairstyles, the Italian made his name with Fiorentina in the late 1980s before joining Juventus.
He became an international legend when he single-handedly dragged Italy to the 1994 World Cup final.
Here are ten facts you might not have known about the Azzurri ace.
The New Generation
When asked about good modern players by journalist and politician Walter Vetroni in September 2015, Baggio responded: “Without a doubt Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo). I like him a lot. And I would like to chat to Mario Balotelli, if he doesn’t change something now he’ll have a problem, and will be full of regrets. Lionel Messi is the best in the world. When he wants to score he does. I’d like to have played with him.”
The larger-than-life, combustible coach Carlo Mazzone isn’t a household name outside Italy, but the former Brescia chief is one of Baggio’s biggest influences.
“I can only thank him. Carlo believed me in me, gave me the chance to enjoy beautiful years of football. He is a straight-forward, sincere person. You don’t find many people like that in our world.”
Defenders and goalkeepers can relax now, but the wildlife of Argentina doesn’t have that luxury. Baggio is a keen hunter and spends as much time as he can in Santa Rosa, in La Pampa.
“Once I saw a 168 pound boar,” he recollected. “You don’t see animals like that every day.”
This hobby has caused controversy and some observers question how he balances shooting animals with Buddhism.