“Hard work is no guarantee for success, but it’s usually the absolute minimum needed for success” Cyril C. Nwokeji

“The doors of life open to those who push hardest.” Anonymous

“The destiny of one’s life is entirely of God’s.” Cyril C. Nwokeji

“God gives success, we can only make an effort as humans.” Cyril C. Nwokeji

My memories of Paolo Rossi’s soccer career is mainly centred on his heroics at the 1982 FIFA World cup competition. At that competition, he put up what till date, is one of the best individual performances of any player at a World cup tournament! And consequently, with benefit of hindsight, provided for himself and for posterity, the greatest soccer legacy !!!! 

Paolo Rossi didn’t seem destined for what, with benefit of hindsight, was his biggest moment of glory, soccer wise, in the months leading up to the 1982 World cup competition. He was implicated in a match-fixing scandal and, consequently, banned from soccer for three years! This meant he had to miss the 1982 World cup competition, at the expiration of his ban. Somehow, providence intervened and provided him the opportunity to fulfil his soccer destiny, by having the Italian football association, reduce his ban by one year, on appeal; consequently, he was eligible to participate at the 1982 World cup competition. 

At the 1982 World cup competition, he was a member of an initially average Italian team, that started the World cup moderately, with average performances against: Peru, Poland and Africa’s representatives: Cameroun. In those three initial group’s stage matches, Italy played three uninspiring draws; with a low scoring average! They, however, scrapped through to the second round of the World cup competition. 

Needless saying Paolo Rossi was heavily criticised by the Italian press, for below average performance, as he was mainly held responsible, for the team’s inability to find the net more frequently in the group’s matches; being the team’s chief marksman! 

In the second round of the World cup tournament, Paolo Rossi, showed he got the message, by unleashing his ‘demons’, in the match-up against Brazil. It must be noted that at the 1982 World cup competition, Brazil was the favourite team, by a wide margin to win the tournament. The Brazilian team was a beauty to behold! A team that had the likes of : Zico, Falcao, Junior, Skipper Socrates, Serginho, Eder, Cerezo, Luizinho, Oscar, Leandro, Walder Peres; and the other then super stars of world soccer! A team that had some of the most highly talented individual players of all time!!!! A team that thrilled, excited and entertained soccer fans, right from the first match, with exquisite, expansive, entertaining soccer; occasioned by the elegant soccer artistry of the then Brazilian super stars, who proudly made up it’s components !!!!!!!! In other words, a team that played in the true spirit, philosophy and traditions of Brazilian soccer, a la Samba style !!!!!!!!!! And of course, under the tactical guidance of Coach Tele Santana. 

Based on the above- mentioned facts and other known facts of the Brazilian team of then and of yester years, the Brazilians were not only favourites for victory at the 1982 World cup competition, it was if the cup had all been handed over to them; save for having to wait for the final match on the final day of the tournament!!!!! 

Based on the above mind set, nobody gave the Italians a chance in the match-up with the Brazilians. They had all been written off by book makers, who overwhelmingly predicted a Brazilian victory! 

But in the match, the highly determined Italian team, the “Azzurris”, leaning heavily on their legendary defensive style, a la “Catanaccio” ( which letterly means “lock and key”), and a “reborn” striker Paolo Rossi, took on the Brazilians. And of course, under the general tactical guidance of their legendary tactician/coach of blessed memory : Enzo Bearzot! 

The Brazilians did the playing, displaying their legendary soccer artistry, but it was the Italians that at the end of the day, did more of the scoring. The end result was: Italy 3, Brazil 2! It was a result nobody expected, but that was reality! Italy, thus, qualified for the semi-finals of the competition, at the expense of the highly favoured Brazilians!!!!! 

Paolo Rossi, profiled himself in that match, by not only opening his World cup goal’s account, but by going on to score three goals; a hat trick in soccer parlance! And, consequently, silenced his critics and helped propel his country to an eventual World cup success!!!! 

In the semi-final match-up, against Poland, he scored the two goals needed by Italy to advance to the final match-up against the then West Germany. 

In the final match against West Germany, he opened scores to finally help his country to a 3-1 goals victory against the Germans; and, thus, Italy won the third World cup competition in her history. 

As a consequence of his heroics at the 1982 World cup competition, he was rewarded with: the golden ball, as the highest goal scorer of the 1982 World cup competition; the golden boot, as the best player of the 1982 World cup tournament and the Ballon d’or as the best European player of 1982! 

In conclusion, by his individual performances against : Brazil, Poland and West-Germany, Paolo Rossi, with benefit of hindsight, helped re-write the 1982 World cup history ; he helped re-write his soccer legacy, which might have been somewhat dented because of the match-fixing scandal, he was involved in! With benefit of hindsight, he helped light-up the 1982 World cup tournament, as the title of this piece suggests! 

May his soul, rest in perfect peace of the Lord! Amen !!!!!!! 

By Cyril C. Nwokeji, the author of the books: “Super Eagles of Nigeria: Pride of Africa”, “Eagle 2019”. The book “Super Eagles of Nigeria: Pride of Africa”, can also be gotten through the author; nwokeji.cyril@gmail.com Please note in this case, payment of postage costs will be necessary.

Disclaimer: The opinion expressed in this article is solely the responsibility of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. The image is taken from the internet and assumed to be in the public domain. If this breaches the copyrighted material, kindly note that the break of the copyright is not intentional and non-commercial. The copyrighted material in question will be removed upon request and presentation of proof in that case, please contact me via the following email: nzeikay@gmail.com



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