Tributes have begun pouring in for Italian football great Paolo Rossi, who has died at the age of 64.
Rossi won both the Golden Boot award for top scorer and the Golden Ball for best player during Italy’s victorious 1982 World Cup campaign.
Italian TV channel RAI Sport, where Rossi had been working as a pundit, said on Thursday “Pablito” had died of an “incurable disease”.
Former Italy goalkeeper, Dino Zoff, another star of the 1982 World Cup, led the tributes to Rossi.
“I don’t know what to say, it was completely out of the blue,” said Zoff. “We’ve always had a great relationship. He was nice and smart. We hadn’t heard from each other in a while.
“They told us something, but I did not think it was so serious. It’s something difficult to understand.”
Rossi’s former Italy team-mate, Fulvio Collovati, said: “If I’m a World Cup winner, I owe it to him and his goals. That World Cup was fantastic.”
Jurgen Klinsmann, the German legend, tweeted: “Dear Pablito, we always remember you!”
Many fans also shared pictures of Rossi alongside Argentinian hero Diego Maradona, who passed away last month. The pair played against each other during the 1982 World Cup and Italy faced Argentina again during the following tournament’s group stage, though Rossi was an unused substitute on the latter occasion.
Italian outlet La Gazetta dello Sport described Rossi as “the one who beat Zico’s Brazil, Maradona’s Argentina, Zbigniew Boniek’s Poland and in the final, the Germany of Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.”
Former Italy Prime Minister Matteo Renzi tweeted: “In our hearts, forever. Farewell Pablito.”