top of page

The Xtra Historic Moment: From Scandal to World Cup Glory

profile photo.webp

Prince Jean

Jul 1, 2024

The World Cup Throwback

Every day, XtrAfrica highlights a World Cup record. Today’s spotlight is on Paolo Rossi, whose remarkable journey in the 1982 FIFA World Cup™ led him to win the adidas Golden Boot. Credit:oguntoday

A storm had erupted into a tsunami. Controversy surrounded Paolo Rossi's inclusion in Italy's squad for the 1982 FIFA World Cup™ over Roberto Pruzzo, who had just won back-to-back Capocannonieri titles. Rossi, sidelined by the Totonero scandal, had only played three matches in two seasons. After a dismal first round, the Italian public was outraged.


Rossi, failing to score in the group stage, faced immense pressure. Italy, despite being in a supposedly easy group, advanced behind Poland, narrowly beating Cameroon on goal difference.

Calls grew louder for coach Enzo Bearzot to replace Rossi with Alessandro Altobelli. Nevertheless, Bearzot persisted with Rossi, ignoring the outcry.


Italy scraped past Argentina with a 2-1 win, but Rossi remained goalless, extending his scoring drought for Italy to over three years. The 25-year-old faced harsh criticism, with his private life, attitude, and performance under intense scrutiny.

“The pressure I was under was volcanic,” Rossi recalled. “Football is everything to Italians. I was blamed for everything. The press was relentless. I tried to ignore it, but it affected me.”

The night before Italy’s crucial match against Brazil, Bearzot visited Rossi’s hotel room. Rossi expected to be dropped, but instead, Bearzot engaged him in a discussion about cubist and surrealist painters like Picasso and Dali to calm his nerves.


The unconventional approach worked. Rossi delivered one of the most remarkable performances in World Cup history, scoring a hat-trick to eliminate the title favorites Brazil and end their 24-game unbeaten streak. He then scored twice against Poland in the semi-finals and netted the opener in Italy's 3-1 victory over West Germany in the final.


Rossi’s turnaround was extraordinary. Before Italy's fifth game, Zbigniew Boniek, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, and Zico each had four goals, while Rossi had none. Yet, Rossi finished as the tournament's top scorer with the adidas Golden Boot, a feat unmatched by any player who had taken so long to score in the tournament.

Zico,Paolo Rossi and Karl Heinz Rummenigge poses with the Bronze Boot Golden Boot and Silver Boot awards from the 1982 FIFA World Cup. Credit:FIFA
“No other coach would have kept picking me,”

said Rossi.

“Bearzot’s confidence in me was fundamental. The first goal against Brazil was the most important of my career. It gave me back my confidence. A goal can change everything. For me, it changed my entire life.”

More Stories

Breaking News

Why Adele is Pausing Her Music Career

Entertainment

Jul 18, 2024

Ingabire The Opposition Leader Challenges Fairness of Rwandan Election and lacked competition.

Rwanda

Ingabire Questions Legitimacy of Kagame’s Landslide Victory with lack of fairness and competition

Politics

Jul 17, 2024

Buyoya's Remains Returned to Burundi Three Years After His Death for a Private Reburial Ceremony

Burundi

Former Burundian President Pierre Buyoya's Body Repatriated from Mali

Community

Jul 16, 2024

bottom of page