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Rossi, who led Italy to 1982 World Cup, dies

‘We have lost a friend and an icon of our soccer’

ROME, Dec 10, (AP): Paolo Rossi, who led Italy to the 1982 World Cup title and later worked as a soccer commentator in his home country, has died after a long illness. He was 64. Rossi’s wife, Federica Cappelletti, said Thursday he died in her arms. She said Rossi died in his sleep at the hospital after she promised him she would care for their children and assuring him that he “had already done so much.” ‘’I hugged him hard and I told him, ‘Paolo, now go. Enough, you’ve suffered enough. Now leave this body,’” she said. “And then he went to sleep.”

In this Tuesday, April 5, 2016 filer, former soccer player Paolo Rossi attends the funeral of former Italy coach Cesare Maldini at Milan’s Sant’Ambrogio’s Basilica, Italy. Rossi, the star of Italy’s World Cup-winning team in 1982, died at age 64. He was the leading scorer in the ‘82 World Cup and was also FIFA’s player of the year. (AP)

Cappelletti spoke to reporters outside the La Scotta hospital in Siena, where Rossi had been treated over the past year and where family members gathered Thursday. State-run RAI television, where Rossi worked as a sportscaster, said he had been diagnosed with an incurable illness. Cappelletti had announced the death on Instagram, posting a picture of the couple with the caption “Per sempre,” Italian for “Forever.” 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 scored six goals at the tournament in Spain, including a hat trick in a 3-2 win over Brazil and the opening goal in a 3-1 win over West Germany in the final. He was also voted FIFA player of the year in 1982.

The Italian soccer federation said it would fl y fl ags at half-staff in a sign of mourning. “We have lost a friend and an icon of our soccer,” federation president Gabriele Gravina said. “He took an entire country by the hand, which rejoiced in the streets, for him and with him.”

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