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.
Barmy for Boca
If you didn’t know who the Venetian genius supported, you wouldn’t be able to guess. Baggio is a Boca Juniors fan.
“I was at home with a friend on a rainy day watching TV and we found a match. It was Boca at the Bombonera and the score was 4-0. The home fans were dancing, singing, their cheerfulness was contagious. Then my friend pointed out they were losing, and they became my team. Their stadium and supporters are incredible.”
When Roby met Leo
During Pep Guardiola’s era at Barcelona, Baggio went to watch his old Brescia teammate’s side at the Camp Nou. After the match he met Lionel Messi and the Italian told the Argentine: “You have to only concentrate on playing, and doing what you do best. Don’t get carried away in all the confusion that surrounds you, otherwise it will ruin you.”
Robertino, as legendary Italian commentator Bruno Pizzul called the little magician, is in a select group. Baggio scored in three consecutive World Cups in 1990, 1994 and 1998.
His slaloming, solo goal against Czechoslovakia at Italia 90 and one-man demolition of Bulgaria in the 1994 semi-final were stratospheric high points.