'Paolo is for all of us'- FIFA President leads tributes as Italian great Rossi honoured at FIFA Museum

  • Rossi’s wife, Federica, and team-mates from 1982 FIFA World Cup in attendance

  • Event at FIFA Museum to mark one year since Rossi’s passing

  • FIFA President recalls watching 1982 FIFA World Cup as a child

FIFA President Gianni Infantino paid homage to FIFA World Cup™ 1982 winner Paolo Rossi, during an emotional evening celebrating the Italian’s life at the FIFA Museum in Zurich on Thursday.

The FIFA President was joined by Rossi’s wife, Federica, President of the Italian FA Gabriele Gravina, and eight members of the Italy team that won the FIFA World Cup 1982 Final 3-1 against West Germany, to mark one year since Rossi’s passing at the age of 64.

Rossi scored the first goal in the Final, his sixth of the tournament, which included a famous hat-trick against the great Brazil team of Zico, Socrates and Falcao.

Falcao and another of the 1982 Brazil team, Leo Junior, were also in attendance in Zurich. “Paolo [Rossi] is for all of us,” said the FIFA President during his speech.

“As I was saying to Federica, he's a brother, someone that, even if you didn't know him, was part of your life.

“Guys, you should be proud of him, really proud of Paolo. For me, he's the Italian out of the last generation who had the biggest impact on the Italians' sense of national pride, through his smile and his simple way of being, which he managed to communicate even to those who didn't know him.”

The evening was particularly special for the FIFA President, who has long considered Rossi to be one of his heroes.

“I had the fortune and the honour to get to know him. And I must say that when you knew him these emotions were even greater.

“But also for the millions of Italians, in Italy and abroad, who never got to know him, Paolo meant something special, for all of us.”

Infantino, who was born in Switzerland to Italian parents, was a 12 year-old boy watching the 1982 FIFA World Cup on television.

Rossi and the rest of that successful Italian side had him hooked.

“For me personally, I think the 1982 World Cup was definitely the moment when, to use a topical phrase, the football virus became part of my life and my body. “And there are no vaccines or treatments against this virus!

“The football virus is a wonderful thing, it's pure emotion, it gives joy and sometimes pain, but above all, it's about emotions.”

The FIFA President said that his family went across the border to watch the Final.

“There are emotions that affect you, emotions that make you grow, and that make you love this sport that teaches us all so many of those values.

“And thinking back to those moments, a lot of things come to mind: my dad, who is no longer with us and who gave me the passion for football, Paolo's smile, who we are here to remember because he's here with us.

“I like to think that he's here with us, and he can enjoy this evening with us.”

During the FIFA Museum event, Infantino and Federica Cappelletti-Rossi exchanged gifts as they remembered the great man on a poignant evening for all involved.

The FIFA Museum will launch a new exhibition about Paolo Rossi entitled ‘Un Ragazzo d'Oro’ (A Golden Boy) in 2023.