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Paolo Rossi, The Man Who made Brazil Cry, Turns 60

Former Italian national team forward Paolo Rossi celebrated his 60th birthday Thursday. With his hat trick at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, Rossi not only managed to push Italy to glory but also gave a name to his biography, published in 2002: "I Made Brazil Cry".

Brazil was the heavy favorite of that World Cup. Players like Zico, Socrates, Paulo Roberto Falcao, Toninho Cerezo and Eder were part of that Brazilian National Team.

On September 23, 1956, in Prato, a town in Toscana, near Florence Paolo Rossi was born. He was never very interested in studying but decided to pursue what he loved most: soccer.

After suffering a knee injury Rossi made his debut at age 19 in Serie A playing for a team called Como. In the next season, 76/77, he was transferred to Vicenza in Serie B, where he was converted from wing to center forward. From there he would wear number 9 for the rest of his career.

In the 77/78 season, when he and Vicenza returned  to Serie A he was the league's top scorer with 39 goals in 58 games.

Thanks to that performance Enzo Bearzot, the Italian National Team manager, took him to the 1978 World Cup, where he scored three goals and began to be recognized in international football.

In the 79/80 season he was on loan to Perugia, where he scored 13 goals in 28 games, but, after the tournament, he, along with 22 other players, was convicted of participating in illegal betting and match-fixing in Serie A so, he was suspended for two years.

Despite not playing, Juventus and Italy manager Enzo Bearzot believes in Rossi, who returned to the pitch in 1981.

On July 5, 1982, Rossi rewarded Bearzot's confidence with three goals in the Sarria stadium in Spain. He eliminated Brazil (3-2) and Italy qualified for the semifinals.

However, his goals did not stop there because at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium scored two more goals in the semifinals. Italy beat Poland 2-0.

The final pitted Italy against Germany. In that game, Rossi scored his sixth goal, which made him the 1982 World Cup’s top scorer. Italy won 3-1. Later, "Pablito," as he was known, received the 1982 Ballon D’ Or.

Those were different times. It is said that Barcelona then offered three $3 million for Rossi but Juventus did not want to sell him. For various reasons Rossi never played outside Italy.

In 1987 Rossi retired as a soccer player.

It can be said that Rossi through his career was first a promise of football, later sanctioned villain and, finally, a national hero in his country.   

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