Where are they now?: Paolo Rossi

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The Independent Online
ITALIAN fans cling to the hope that this World Cup mirrors the 1982 tournament in Spain, where their team began unconvincingly but then found an unexpected hero in the diminutive centre-forward, Paolo Rossi, whose six goals swept them to the title.

Italy's victory earned Rossi redemption as well as the coveted Golden Boot. Already a star after hitting three goals in Argentina in 1978, 'Pablito' suffered national disgrace in 1980, when he was suspended for two years for his alleged part in a match-fixing scandal. He was recalled by the Azzurri only a month before the 1982 finals, amid much scepticism.

Success at home and in Europe with Juventus completed his rehabilitation, but since retiring as a player in 1987 he has tended to avoid the spotlight, turning down several coaching jobs.

Although he is proud of his role in Italy's finest triumph - 'the high point in my career, when every Italian city became a stadium in which the only sounds heard were the television commentary and the shouts of joy of millions of fans' - he has pursued a career mainly away from football and maintained a guarded private life.

Now 37, he lives near Vicenza, the northern city where he first knew fame, running the Rosa Estate Agency at Caldogno, in partnership with a former playing colleague, Giancarlo Salvi. Other business interests, some based in Rome, include jewellery and gold.

Rossi has also been involved with an attempt to introduce the United States to 'Totocalcio' - Italy's football pools.

(Photograph omitted)

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