Paolo Rossi's career lay in tatters in 1980, after he
was suspended for three years following an alleged
"fixing" scandal. Rossi continually
protested his innocence and the ban was commuted to
two years. Born in September 1956, knee problems
dogged him with Juventus' junior side and they loaned
him to Como, then to a Serie B club, Lanerossi
who converted him from a winger to centre-forward.
Rossi became an instant sensation and his 21 goals
helped them to promotion and the club paid £1.500.000
to take him permanently. After being relegated,
however, Lanerossi transferlisted him at £3.000.000,
but he refused to join Napoli and went to Perugia on
loan. It was a result of their game with Avellino in
1980 that he was accused of taking a bribe after the
match ended 2-2 and Rossi scored both Perugia's goals.
In 1981, whilst still suspended, Juventus bought him
for £500.000. His suspension ended on April 29th 1982
and he was immediately recalled to international
football in the 1982 World Cup.
The tournament started poorly for Italy. In a group
with Peru, Poland and Cameroon, they only managed to
score two goals. They went through on more goals
scored than Cameroon. Not many fancied Italy to
progress further when they ended up in the same group
as Brazil and defending champions Argentina. A narrow
2-1 against Argentina gave sign of improvements. But
Rossi still hadn't scored after 4 matches. Teamcoach
Enzo Bearzot gave him a last chance to impress in the
deciding match against Brazil. In a memorable game
where Brazil only needed a draw to reach the
semifinal, Rossi scored a magnificent hat-trick, and
Italy won 3-2.
He continued to impress in the semifinal against
Poland and scored both goals in the 2-0 victory, and
in the final he scored the first in the 3-1 victory
over West Germany. With that goal he also secured the
topscorer title of the tournament.