World Cup winner Paolo Rossi’s funeral held in Vicenza

VICENZA, Italy (AP) — Paolo Rossi’s former teammates served as pallbearers on Saturday at the funeral of the 1982 World Cup hero, who died Wednesday at the age of 64.

Only 300 people were allowed into the cathedral in Vicenza because of coronavirus restrictions but thousands had paid their respects to Rossi in the preceding days when his coffin was placed in a viewing room at the Stadio Menti.

The day was made even more traumatic for Rossi’s wife, Federica, as Italian media reported that she discovered their home had been burglarized while she was at the funeral. Italian national daily Gazzetta dello Sport said that she came back from the service to find the house in disorder and that valuables had been stolen although the most important items of soccer memorabilia linked to Rossi’s career had not been taken.

Rossi had a remarkable career comeback, leading Italy to the World Cup title after returning from a suspension following a betting scandal in 1980. He later worked as a soccer commentator in his home country.

Rossi’s former teammates from the winning World Cup squad carried the coffin into the cathedral, led by Marco Tardelli and Antonio Cabrini and accompanied by Rossi’s son, Alessandro.

Rossi’s shirt from the World Cup was laid on top of the coffin.

“I haven’t lost just a teammate but a friend and a brother,” Cabrini said at the service. “Together we fought, won and sometimes lost, always getting back up after disappointments.

“We were part of a group, that group, our group … I already miss you, your comforting words, your quips and your stupid jokes.”

Former soccer players Roberto Baggio and Paolo Maldini also attended, as did the president of the Italian soccer federation.

Rossi’s body will be cremated on Sunday.

There will be a minute’s silence before all Serie A matches this weekend and the players will wear a black armband.

Rossi was the top scorer with six goals at the 1982 World Cup. The striker netted the opener in Italy’s 3-1 victory over West Germany in the final, held in Madrid.

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