World champions in 1982 and hundreds of fans went to Vicenza (northeastern Italy) on Saturday to pay a final tribute to Paolo Rossi, hero of the Azzurri’s third championship. Meanwhile, the ex-footballer’s home in the Tuscan countryside was robbed during his funeral service.

Italian news agency AGI reported that Rossi’s widow, Federica, on returning from the ceremony found that the house they shared near Bucine, southeast of Florence, had been robbed.

The stolen items included a watch belonging to the football legend and money.

Rossi and his family lived on a farm in Poggio Cennina, a hill overlooking the Val d’Ambra, where he ran an organic farming company and an agrotourism unit.

His companions in winning the World Cup in Spain carried the ‘Pablito’ coffin in the cathedral square of Vicenza, a city whose club he helped achieve unexpected results (2nd place in the 1978 Italian championship).

“If I’m a world champion, it’s thanks to him,” said Fulvio Collovati, a former central defender for the Italian national team.

With six goals in the 1982 World Championship, Rossi was the great architect of the Italian triumph. A performance awarded with the Golden Ball award of the same year.

His death on Wednesday, aged 64, after a long illness, generated a wave of mourning and national tributes, mainly in Vicenza, where he led his club in Serie A. Thanks to Rossi, the top scorer of the 1978 championship (24 goals), the modest club ended the season as runner-up, behind Juventus only.

An unforgettable memory of this city in the northeast of the country where thousands of people went to pay homage to him on Friday at the Menti stadium, where the funeral was held.

On Saturday, despite the restrictions imposed by Covid-19, hundreds of people gathered in front of the city’s cathedral. Only 250 people were allowed to attend the ceremony, broadcast live on national television.

On the same day, players in Italy entered the field with black armbands.

A minute of silence was observed before kick-off with Rossi’s photograph projected with the phrases “Heroes never die” and “Ciao Paolo”.

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