Italian legend Roberto Baggio paid tribute to the late Paolo Rossi but also lamented that he could not win the World Cup like the former Vicenza and Juventus striker did.
Rossi, who passed away on Wednesday at the age of 64, is best remembered for his heroics in Italy’s 1982 World Cup triumph whereas ‘Il Divin Codino’ was not able to achieve the same in the 1994 edition after missing a penalty in the penalty shootout defeat to Brazil.
Baggio said that Rossi was his inspiration while he had played for Vicenza in the late 1970s and that he often dreamt of emulating his career achievements.
“When I woke up, another blow,” Baggio said in La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“The sweet memories of when I was 10 come back to the surface, preserved for decades in one of the many albums in my memory.
“My father and I travelled almost 12 kilometers, two on a bicycle, to get to Vicenza starting from Caldogno. To go to the stadium to see the great Paolo Rossi.
“Those were the years when I cradled my dreams. I thought that one day I too would play in that stadium, that I would wear that beautiful shirt with the big R on the chest.
“Imitating Paolo Rossi, I would be able to realise how much he succeeded in realising them.
“I dreamt of winning a world championship in the final against Brazil. Like Paolo Rossi did against Germany. Winning the Golden Ball. Like Paolo Rossi. Winning in a world that increasingly needs Paolo Rossi’s smile.
“Today Paolo flew into the skies leaving behind all that good football can offer. Paolo had given a dream to millions of Italians, which I did not succeed.
“Goodbye Paolo, who knows if you will put on your football boots when you are in heaven. I hope so, I hope your smile will arrive there too. We will remember it here for a long time.”