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Paolo Rossi, Italy’s top scorer in his winning campaign at the 1982 World Cup, died at the age of 64.
His death comes with the football world still in mourning for Argentine icon Diego Maradona, who passed away at the end of last month.
Italian TV channel RAI Sport, where Rossi worked as a commentator, said on Thursday that “Pablito” died of an “incurable disease”.
“Terribly sad news: Paolo Rossi left us,” tweeted RAI Sport presenter Enrico Varriale.
“Unforgettable Pablito, who made us all fall in love that summer of 1982 and who was a precious and competent co-worker at RAI in recent years.”
Rossi’s wife Federica Cappelletti posted a photo of her and her husband on Instagram along with the words “forever” – “forever”.
Rossi won two Serie A titles, a European Cup and an Italian Cup for Juventus, but he will be fondly remembered for his six goals at the 1982 World Cup in Spain.
His selection on the team was initially criticized by analysts, who considered him out of shape, but they were swallowing the words when he made one of the biggest World Cup hat-trick against Brazil.
Italy’s 3-2 victory in that classic group stage game ensured the team a place in the semifinals against Poland, where Rossi again made the difference.
He defeated the Poles with two goals in the 2-0 win that led his team to the World Cup decision against West Germany.
Rossi then scored Italy’s first goal in a 3-1 win that gave the team their third world title and their first since 1938.
He won the golden boot as a top scorer and the golden ball as the tournament’s best player, a campaign considered one of the best individual performances in World Cups of all time.
Among the tributes from the football world, the former world champion of Germany, Juergen Klinsmann, tweeted: “Dear Pablito, we always remember you!”