I know it is almost criminal that I only have one Italian player, Paolo Rossi, on my World Cup All-Time Best XI roster. The team has won four trophies and always been a competitive side. But, like many things involving Italian soccer, these results are fixed. You see, the team usually plays so unselfishly one player doesn’t emerge as the only star.
But, I actually could have put Silvio Piola or Giuseppe Meazza on this list instead of Rossi, as they were both legendary forwards for Italy who won World Cups. But, I think Rossi deserves this honor. He played in three WCs (1978, 1982 and 1984) and during the 1978 and 1982 World Cups he displayed an unparalleled nose for the net.
Rossi scored three goals at the ’78 Cup, but Italy sadly finished fourth. The next year, he received a three year ban from soccer for allegedly fixing matches. Many fans didn’t think he would be fit for the ’82 Cup in Spain due to the layoff, but he proved them wrong by putting on a performance I would like to honor as the best in WC history.
Rossi didn’t just lead the Italians to their third title, he did it with a style and efficiency never seen before on the world’s biggest stage. He would not only win the tournament for his side, but he would also be awarded the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball. He is still the only player to win all three trophies too, so I think he deserves his spot.