||This article may be too long to read and navigate comfortably. (January 2015)|
Baggio in 2013
|Full name||Roberto Baggio|
|Date of birth||18 February 1967|
|Place of birth||Caldogno, Italy|
|Height||1.74 m (5 ft 8 1⁄2 in)|
|Playing position||Second striker
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
Roberto Baggio (Italian pronunciation: [roˈbɛrto ˈbaddʒo]; born 18 February 1967) is a retired Italian footballer, who predominantly played as a second forward or as an attacking midfielder. He is also the former President of the technical sector of the Italian Football Federation. A technically gifted, creative playmaker, and a set piece specialist renowned for his curling free kicks, Baggio is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, coming fourth in the FIFA Player of the Century internet poll, and was chosen on the FIFA World Cup Dream Team. In 1993, he was named FIFA World Player of the Year and won the Ballon d'Or. In 2004, he was named in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players.
Baggio played for Italy in 56 matches, scoring 27 goals, and is the fourth highest goalscorer for his national team. He starred in the Italian team that finished third in the 1990 FIFA World Cup, scoring twice. At the 1994 FIFA World Cup he led Italy to the final, scoring five goals, received the World Cup Silver Ball and was named in the World Cup All-Star Team. He is largely remembered for missing the decisive penalty in the shootout of the 1994 World Cup Final against Brazil. At the 1998 FIFA World Cup he scored twice, before Italy were eliminated to eventual champions France in the quarter-finals. Baggio is the only Italian to score in three World Cups, and with nine goals holds the record for most goals scored in World Cup tournaments for Italy, along with Paolo Rossi and Christian Vieri.
At club level, Baggio is one of the three top-scoring Italians in all competitions. In 2002, he became the first Italian player in over 50 years to score more than 300 career goals. In 2004, during the final season of his career, Baggio became the first player in over 30 years to score 200 goals in Serie A, and is currently the 6th highest goalscorer of all time in Serie A, with 205 goals. In 1990, he moved from Fiorentina to Juventus for a world record transfer fee. Baggio has won two Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia and a UEFA Cup, playing for seven different teams during his career.
Baggio is known as Il Divin Codino (The Divine Ponytail), for the hairstyle he wore during most of his career, for his talent, and for his Buddhist beliefs. In 2002, he was nominated Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. In 2003, Baggio was the inaugural winner of the "Golden Foot" award. In recognition of his human rights activism, he received the Man of Peace award from the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in 2010. He was inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Club career
- 3 International career
- 4 After retirement
- 5 Style of play and reputation
- 6 Records and selected statistics
- 7 Legacy in popular culture
- 8 Career statistics
- 9 Honours
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Roberto Baggio was born on 18 February 1967 in Caldogno, Veneto, son of Matilde and Fiorindo Baggio, the sixth of eight siblings. As a youngster, he always had a keen interest in football and played for a local youth club over a period of nine years. His younger brother, Eddy Baggio, was also a footballer who played 86 games in Serie B. After his serious career threatening injury in 1985, Baggio, formerly a Roman Catholic, converted to Buddhism, practicing Nichiren Buddhism, and is a member of the Soka Gakkai International Buddhist organization. Despite his conversion, he married his long-time girlfriend Andreina Fabbi in 1989 in a traditional Roman Catholic ceremony. They have a daughter, Valentina, and two sons, Mattia and Leonardo.
1982–1990: Youth career, Vicenza and Fiorentina
Baggio began his youth career after being noticed by his hometown youth team, Caldogno, at the age of 9. By the time he had turned 11, he had scored 45 goals in 26 matches, including a match in which he had managed six goals. His talent was recognised by the scout Antonio Mora, and he was acquired by the Vicenza youth team at the age of 13 for three hundred pounds. After scoring 110 goals in 120 matches for the Vicenza Youth team, Baggio began his professional career at native club Vicenza in Serie C1 during the 1982 season, at age 15.
Baggio made his Serie C debut with Vicenza on 5 June 1983, against Piacenza, and he scored his first goal for Vicenza in Serie C during the following season on 3 June 1984. Coincidentally, his first career goal was scored against Brescia, the club with which he would retire from professional football in 2004. Baggio scored his first goal in the Coppa Italia Serie C with Vicenza in a 4-1 away win over Legnano on 30 November 1983. Baggio also made his Coppa Italia debut with the club on 31 August 1983, against Palermo, and he scored his first Coppa Italia goal in a 4-2 away loss to Empoli, on 26 August 1984. During the 1984-85 Serie C1 season with Vicenza, he scored 12 goals, helping the club to gain promotion to Serie B. Baggio had begun to draw the attention of larger clubs, in particular Fiorentina, as his playing style had drawn comparisons to Brazilian legend, and Baggio's idol, Zico. Baggio was also awarded the Guerin d'Oro in 1985 as the Best Player in Serie C. After securing promotion for Vicenza, Baggio's transfer to Fiorentina was made official. During his time at Vicenza, Baggio scored 16 goals in 47 appearances in all competitions. Baggio scored 13 goals in 36 Serie C1 appearances, 2 goals in 9 Coppa Italia appearances, and 1 goal in 2 Coppa Italia Serie C appearances.
It was during the end of his final season at Vicenza that he first seriously injured his left knee, at the age of 18, after attempting a sliding challenge against Rimini. Baggio shattered the cruciate ligament in his knee two days before his transfer deal to Fiorentina had been finalsed, and the injury seriously threatened his career. Although several team doctors feared he would not be able to play again, Fiorentina retained their faith in him and agreed to commit to the transfer, and fund the required surgery, which Baggio described as one of the many reasons for his attachment to the club.
Fiorentina purchased Baggio in 1985, for £1.5 million, and during his time at the club, despite initially being sidelined due to injury, he became extremely popular with the fans, and is regarded by pundits as one of the club's best ever players. In his first season with the club, Fiorentina finished in 5th place, and reached the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia, with Baggio making his club debut in the competition. He made his Serie A debut on 21 September 1986 against Sampdoria, wearing the number 10 shirt. He also made his European debut that season on 17 September 1986, in an UEFA Cup first round match against Boavista. Despite the apparently successful operation on Baggio's knee, he suffered another injury on 28 September, and he was operated again, requiring 220 stitches to have it rebuilt, losing 12 kg as a result, and missing most of the season. Baggio returned, and scored his first league goal from a free kick on 10 May 1987, in a 1-1 draw against Diego Armando Maradona's Napoli, which is best remembered for Napoli's first ever Scudetto victory; Baggio's equaliser also saved Fiorentina from relegation.
Baggio led Fiorentina to a Coppa Italia quarterfinal during the 1988-1989 season under manager Sven-Göran Eriksson, scoring 9 goals, as the tournament's second highest scorer. Fiorentina were knocked out by the eventual champions Sampdoria. This season would be Baggio's breakthrough, as he scored 15 goals in Serie A, finishing third in the capocannoniere title; he also helped Fiorentina to finish in 7th place and win an UEFA Cup spot, assisting a goal in the tie-break qualifier against Roma. He formed a notable attacking partnership with Stefano Borgonovo, and the pair scored 29 of Fiorentina's 44 Serie A goals, earning the nickname "B2". Baggio's performances elevated him to hero status among the fans, and he drew praise from several pundits. Baggio's characteristics led former Fiorentina playmaker, Miguel Montuori, to state that Baggio was: "…more productive than Maradona; he is without doubt the best number 10 in the league", also stating that Baggio had "ice in his veins", due to his composure in front of goal.
Although Fiorentina were struggling against relegation during the 1989-90 Serie A season, Baggio led the club to the UEFA Cup final in 1990, only to be defeated by his future club, Juventus. Baggio scored one goal in 12 appearances in the competition, in a round of 16 1-0 home win against Dinamo Kiev, from a penalty, on 22 November 1989; this was his first goal in European competitions. He also scored the decisive penalty in the first round shootout against Atlético de Madrid. With 17 goals, Baggio was the second highest goalscorer in the 1989-90 Serie A season after Marco van Basten, and was awarded the Bravo Award by the Italian sports magazine "Il Guerin Sportivo" as the best Under-21 player in European competitions; he also placed 8th in the 1990 Ballon d'Or. With Fiorentina, Baggio scored 55 goals in 136 appearances in all competitions, 39 of which were in Serie A, in 94 appearances.
In 1990, Baggio was sold to one of Fiorentina's strongest rivals, Juventus, for €10 million (US$13.6 million), the world record transfer for a footballer at the time. He inherited the number 10 shirt, formerly worn by club legend Michel Platini. Following the transfer, there were full scale riots on the streets of Florence, where fifty people were injured. Baggio replied to his fans, saying: "I was compelled to accept the transfer".
When Juventus played Fiorentina on 7 April 1991, Baggio refused to take a penalty, stating that Fiorentina's goalkeeper knew him too well. Baggio's replacement, De Agostini, missed the penalty, and Juventus lost the match. When Baggio was substituted, he picked up a Fiorentina scarf thrown onto the field by one of the fans, a gesture which, although was appreciated by his former Fiorentina fans, caused outrage amongst the Juventus supporters, who were initially reluctant to accept Baggio. He claimed: "Deep in my heart I am always purple", the colour of Fiorentina. During his time at Juventus, he suffered five serious injuries.
In this first season at Juventus, he scored 14 goals and provided 12 assists in Serie A, often playing as a second striker or as an attacking midfielder behind the forwards, as Juventus finished in 7th place, out of possible European Qualifying spots. Juventus did reach the semifinals of the European Cup Winner's Cup, however, a tournament in which Baggio was top scorer, with nine goals, bringing his seasonal total to 27 goals. Juventus were eliminated by Cruyff's Barcelona "Dream Team". Juventus were also eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia to eventual winners Roma, with Baggio scoring 3 goals. Juventus also lost the Supercoppa Italiana Final against Napoli at the beginning of the season; Baggio scored Juventus's only goal of the match from a penalty. Baggio made his 100th Serie A appearance in a 0-0 against Lazio on 21 October 1990. The Juventus coach at the time, Luigi Maifredi, was replaced by former Juventus coaching legend Giovanni Trapattoni the following season.
In his second season, Baggio finished runner-up to Van Basten for the Serie A top scorer title, scoring 18 goals and providing 8 assists, as Juventus finished as runners-up to Fabio Capello's AC Milan in Serie A, and to Parma in the Coppa Italia Final, in which Baggio scored in the first leg from a penalty. After being excluded from European competitions, Juventus had qualified for the UEFA Cup the next season as runners up in Serie A. During the season Baggio had begun to suffer physical problems; he pulled a muscle during the match against Bari, which kept him out for three weeks. During this season, Baggio began to become accepted by Juventus fans, and he was seen as more of a leader, under Trapattoni, and he began to play in a more advanced role than he had under Maifredi. The Juventus squad at the time was also beginning to become centred around Baggio's style of play under Trapattoni. During the season, Baggio began to have minor disagreements with Trapattoni, which were later resolved, and he also began to have difficulties with the Juventus management. In July 1992, Baggio cut his ponytail for the first time.
In the 1992–1993 season, he was appointed team captain, and alternated playing between more advanced, offensive positions, alongside Vialli, and deeper, playmaking positions, with Andreas Möller. Baggio endured an injury in a World Cup Qualifying match against Scotland in November 1992, fracturing one of his ribs, which kept him out for a month. Baggio had a dominant season, winning his only European club trophy, by helping Juventus to the UEFA Cup final, in which he scored twice and assisted another goal over both legs, defeating Borussia Dortmund 6-1 on aggregate. En route to the final, Baggio scored two goals in the 2-1 home victory against Paris Saint-Germain, in the first leg of the semi-final, and he went on to score the only goal in the return leg. Juventus also reached the semi finals of the Coppa Italia, losing on away goals to cross-town rivals and eventual champions Torino. Juventus ended 4th in Serie A that season, although they managed a 3-1 win against the Serie A Champions, Milan, with Baggio scoring a memorable individual goal. He also managed a notable brace in a 5-1 win over Ancona that season. Another one of the highlights of the season involved Baggio scoring four goals in open play against Udinese, in a 5-0 Juventus home win. Baggio would have managed a fifth goal, but his strike was deflected by an opposing defender and was labelled as an Udinese own goal. Baggio was once again runner-up for the Serie A Capocannoniere title, with 21 goals and 6 assists, his personal best goalscoring record in Serie A until then. He scored a personal best 30 goals in all club competitions during the 1992-93 season, in addition to 5 goals with the Italian national side. During the 1993 calendar year, Baggio managed a personal record 39 goals across all competitions, scoring 23 goals in Serie A, 3 in the Coppa Italia, 8 goals in European competitions, and 5 goals for Italy, helping his national side qualify for the upcoming World Cup. Baggio's performances throughout the year earned him both European Footballer of the Year, with 142 points from a possible 150, and FIFA World Player of the Year. Baggio was also awarded the 1993 Onze d'Or, and the 1993 World Soccer Player of the Year Award.
In the 1993-1994 season, Juventus again finished runners up to Milan, and Baggio finished third in the Capocannoniere title with 17 goals and 8 assists in Serie A, whilst they were knocked out of the UEFA Cup in the quarterfinals by Cagliari, and in the second round of the Coppa Italia by Venezia. Baggio often played as a second striker, behind Gianluca Vialli, and occasionally alongside the emerging Alessandro Del Piero. He was also deployed as an attacking midfielder, behind Vialli and Ravanelli, but successfully found the net most often in more advanced positions. Baggio scored scored a hat-trick in a 4-0 win over Genoa, which included his 100th Serie A goal, on 31 October 1993. Baggio sustained a minor injury that season, against Cagliari in November 1993, but he returned in time for Juventus's UEFA Cup win over Tenerife, scoring from a penalty. He made his 200th Serie A appearance on 5 December 1993 in a 1-0 win against Napoli. Baggio was later operated on his meniscus in March 1994. Marcello Lippi was called to replace Giovanni Trapattoni the following season. For his performances for Juventus that season, and for Italy at the 1994 World Cup, reaching the final, Baggio placed second in the 1994 Ballon d'Or, behind Stoichkov, and third in the 1994 FIFA World Player of the Year, behind Romário and Stoichkov. He was also awarded the 1994 Onze de Bronze, finishing behind Romário and Stoichkov once again.
In the 1994-1995 season, Lippi wanted to create a more cohesive team, less dependent on Baggio. Baggio was often deployed as an outside forward, rather than as a second striker, in Lippi's 4-3-3 formation. Baggio was injured for a large part of the season, however, being ruled out for five months due to a knee injury, which he had sustained at Padova on 27 November 1994, after scoring from a free-kick; he was substituted by Del Piero, who would go on to temporarily take his place in the starting lineup. The club initially preferred him not to undergo surgery, but reversed their decision after he had briefly resumed training, ruling him out yet another month. Baggio returned to the starting line-up in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final against Lazio, in Rome, on 8 March 1995, setting up Ravanelli's winner. On his first Serie A match back from injury, on 12 March 1995, Baggio scored Juventus's second goal in a 2-0 win over Foggia, also setting up Ravanelli's goal. Due to his injury, Baggio only managed 17 Serie A appearances, notching 8 assists, but only scoring 8 goals, 2 of which were penalties. He still managed to contribute to the victory of his first Scudetto with Juventus, scoring important goals to clinch the title, such as a match-winning penalty against his former team, Fiorentina on 30 April 1995. Unlike the infamous occasion in 1991, however, Baggio celebrated the goal, and went on to set up Juventus's final goal of the match. He also memorably provided assists for three of the goals in the title-deciding match against eventual runners-up Parma, a match which Juventus won 4-0 in Turin, on the 21st May 1995. He helped Juventus win the Coppa Italia that year, scoring 2 goals and providing 2 assists, also scoring the winning goal in the second leg of the semi-final. He helped lead Juventus to yet another UEFA Cup final, scoring 4 goals in the competition, including a brace in the round of 16, and two goals and an assist against Borussia Dortmund in the semi-finals. In the home leg, Baggio scored from a penalty in a 2-2 draw. In the away leg, Baggio assisted Juventus's first goal, and scored the winner from a free-kick. Despite Baggio's strong performance, Juventus were defeated in the UEFA Cup final, however, by Parma. Baggio finished his final season in Turin with 14 goals in all competitions. Baggio scored 115 goals in 200 appearances in all competitions during his five seasons at Juventus, of which 78 were scored in Serie A in 141 appearances. In 1995, Baggio was nominated for both the Ballon d'Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year Award, finishing 5th in the FIFA World Player of the Year Award final ranking, and was also awarded the 1995 Onze d'Argent Award, behind Weah.
Baggio is currently Juventus's 9th highest goal-scorer in all competitions, and is the joint 10th highest goal-scorer for Juventus in Serie A, alongside Pietro Anastasi. He is also the 6th best Juventus goal-scorer in the Coppa Italia with 14 goals, and the joint 4th all-time Juventus goalscorer in European and International competitions, with 22 goals, alongside Anastasi once again. In 2010, he was named as one of the 50 greatest legends in the history of the club.
1995–2000: Milan, Bologna, and Inter
In 1995, Lippi, Bettega and Umberto Agnelli stated that Baggio no longer entered into their plans at Juventus and decided that it would be more suitable, in particular from a financial aspect, to focus on the young emerging Italian star Alessandro Del Piero, who would inherit Baggio's number 10 shirt. Baggio had begun to have difficulties with Umberto Agnelli, Luciano Moggi, and the Juventus management during his final season, and the club had made it clear that they had no intention of renewing his contract, unless he reduced his salary by 50%. After strong pressure from Milan chairman Silvio Berlusconi and manager Fabio Capello, he was sold to the Milanese club for 18 billion Lit., amidst several protests from the Juventus fans. At this time, he had been linked with Inter and Real Madrid, as well as with English Premier League clubs Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers, but no firm offers were made. At Milan, Baggio was given the number 18 shirt, as Savićević wore the number 10 jersey. Although Baggio initially struggled with fitness issues and injuries at the beginning of his first season, he came back into the starting line-up and helped Milan win the Serie A title, notably scoring a goal against his former team, Fiorentina, from a penalty, in the title deciding match. In the Coppa Italia, Milan were knocked out in the quarterfinals. Baggio finished the season with 10 goals in all competitions, in 34 appearances. 7 of his goals were scored in Serie A, in 28 appearances, and he also provided 10 assists in Serie A. He became one of the six players to win the Scudetto in consecutive years with different teams. Towards the end of his first season at Milan, Baggio began to have disagreements with manager Fabio Capello due to limited playing time, since Capello believed that Baggio was no longer fit enough to play for 90 minutes. Although Baggio was frequently started by Capello in Milan's matches, he often chose to substitute Baggio halfway through the second half. Baggio was, however, appointed as the main penalty taker of the team, during his first season with Milan.
During the following season, under Milan's new manager Óscar Tabárez, despite initial disagreements, the situation seemed to improve at first. Baggio was often started in his preferred trequartista role behind George Weah, and on occasion, as a left winger, or as a playmaker in the midfield. After a series of disappointing results, however, Baggio began to be relegated to the bench. One of Milan's notable former coaches Arrigo Sacchi was called in as a replacement during the 1996-97 season, the former Italy manager with whom Baggio had previously argued during and after the 1994 World Cup. Sacchi gave Baggio limited playing time at Milan, as Sacchi felt that two creative players, such as Baggio and Savicevic, were not compatible alongside Weah upfront in his 4-4-2 system, and Baggio, along with the rest of the Milan squad, soon fell out of form. Although Baggio's relationship with Sacchi improved for a time, the two soon fell out again. Baggio often argued with his manager due to being left out of the squad, in particular when he was excluded from the starting eleven against Juventus, initially refusing to come onto the pitch. Milan failed to retain their league title, finishing a disappointing eleventh place, and they were knocked out once again in the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia. Baggio would make his Champions' League debut in the 1996-97 season, scoring his first goal in the competition, although Milan would be knocked out in the group stage. Milan would also lose out to Fiorentina in the 1996 Supercoppa Italiana Final, as Baggio was left on the bench. During his time at Milan, Baggio scored 19 goals in 67 appearances throughout all competitions. 12 of his goals were scored in Serie A, in 51 appearances, 3 were scored in the Coppa Italia in 6 appearances, and 4 were scored in European competitions, in 10 appearances.
In 1997, Capello returned to Milan, and although Baggio was initially keen on staying at the club, Capello was no longer interested in keeping him. Feeling excluded, Baggio chose to move to Parma, but the manager at the time, Carlo Ancelotti, impeded the transfer, as he did not feel that Baggio would fit into his tactical plans. Ancelotti would later state in his autobiography that he deeply regretted this decision, stating that in his naivety, he believed that the 4-4-2 was the ideal formation for success at the time, and he felt that creative, offensive midfielders, such as Zola and Baggio, were not compatible with this system, preferring natural strikers, such as Chiesa. He also went on to state that with time and experience, he would find ways of allowing several creative and talented players to co-exist in an optimal formation, and that, given the chance to go back, he would have taken Baggio.
Baggio subsequently decided to transfer to Bologna, aiming to save the squad from relegation, and earn a place at the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Baggio refound his form with the club and had a dominant season, scoring a personal best of 22 goals in Serie A, as well as providing 6 assists, leading Bologna to an 8th place finish, allowing them to qualify for the UEFA Intertoto Cup. Baggio was the highest scoring Italian in Serie A that season, and the third overall highest goalscorer in Serie A, behind Bierhoff and Ronaldo, and his performances earned him a place in Italy's 1998 World Cup squad. Baggio also led Bologna to the Round of 16 in the Coppa Italia that season, scoring 1 goal in 3 appearances. Although he rose to hero status amongst the fans, he had difficulties with his manager at the time, Renzo Ulivieri, in particular during one incident in which, at the last minute, Baggio was left of the starting 11 for the match against his former club, and eventual Serie A Champions, Juventus. Ulivieri however later denied ever having any difficulties with Baggio, stating that he was "a talented player" and "a nice guy". At the beginning of the season, Baggio cut off his iconic ponytail, signifying his rebirth. Baggio was also named as Bologna's captain for part of the season, before handing the armband to Giancarlo Marocchi. Baggio made his 300th Serie A appearance whilst at Bologna, in a 0-0 draw against Empoli on 11 January 1998. Baggio scored 23 goals for Bologna in 33 appearances across all competitions that season. He received nominations for both the Ballon d'Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year due to his performances for Bologna and for the Italian national side at the 1998 World Cup that season.
After the 1998 World Cup, Baggio signed with his favourite childhood club Internazionale, in order to compete in the Champion's League. This proved to be an unfortunate move, as, after disappointing results and several managerial changes during the 1998-99 season (including Luigi Simoni, Mircea Lucescu and Roy Hodgson), Baggio's ex-manager during the 1994-95 Season with Juventus, Marcello Lippi, was appointed as Inter's new manager for the 1999-2000 Serie A Season. The then coach did not favour Baggio, and left him out of the squad for most of the season, justifying his decision by stating that Baggio was out of shape. Whilst at Juventus, Lippi had also previously chosen to sell him to Milan in 1995. This lack of playing time caused Baggio to lose his place in the national team, and Baggio was not called up for Euro 2000. In his autobiography, Baggio stated that Lippi had dumped him after Baggio refused to point out which of Inter's players had expressed negative opinions about the coach, also drawing attention to a particular incident during a training session, where he called out Vieri and Panucci for applauding Baggio for a notable assist.
Baggio scored 5 goals and provided 10 assists in the 1998-99 Serie A season, as Inter finished in a disappointing 8th place. He helped lead Inter to a Coppa Italia semifinal, losing out to eventual winners Parma. Baggio scored a goal against his former club Bologna in a European Play-off match, but Inter lost both matches, failing to reach the qualifying stages of the UEFA Cup the following season. Baggio scored 4 goals in the 1998-99 Champions League, and he helped lead Inter through the qualifying rounds to the quarterfinals, in which they were eliminated by eventual winners Manchester United. During the tournament, he managed a memorable brace against defending champions Real Madrid, in the group stage. In 1999, Baggio was voted the 16th greatest football of the 20th century in World Soccer's list of the 100 greatest footballers of the twentieth century, and was the highest ranked Italian player on the list.
In the 1999-2000 season, Inter were runners-up to Serie A winners Lazio in the Coppa Italia final. Baggio was not often played by Lippi, and often came off of the bench, scoring only 4 goals in 18 appearances during the regular Serie A season. Baggio managed 1 goal in 5 appearances in the Coppa Italia, with his only goal coming against Milanese rivals Milan in the second leg of the quarter-finals, allowing Inter to capture a crucial draw en route to the final. Baggio did not play in Europe with Inter that season. Despite his limited playing time, Baggio still managed several important goals, as Inter managed to finish in fourth place, tied with Parma, such as his goal and assist against Roma, his goal against Bari, his goal against Cagliari, as well as his crucial match winning goal against Verona, which he scored after coming off the bench, after being excluded from the team since 18 December 1999. Baggio had also previously set up Inter's equaliser during the match. This was the first time Baggio had scored for Inter since his goal on 27 May of the previous season, and Baggio passionetly celebrated his goal as a sign of protest against Lippi, later wearing a controversial hat in the post-match interview which bore the writing "Matame, se non te siervo" ("kill me, if you no longer need me"). In the interview, Baggio denied what were, according to himself, false accusations made by Lippi in regard to his personal form.
Baggio's last important contribution to Inter was scoring two memorable goals against Parma in the play-off match for the last remaining UEFA Champions League place, which Inter won 3–1. Lippi had been forced to field Baggio in the starting lineup due to several injured players. Baggio was famously given the rarity of achieving a perfect 10 rating from the Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, who described his performance as "absolutely perfect all game". This game is considered an example of professionalism shown by Baggio. Inter president Massimo Moratti had stated that Lippi would only stay on as manager if the team qualified for the Champions League. Baggio's goals, helping Inter to clinch the fourth Champions League qualifying spot, meant that he would be leaving the club the following season, due to his strenuous relationship with the manager.
During his time at Inter, Baggio scored 18 goals in 61 appearances in all competitions. 9 of his goals were scored in Serie A, in 41 appearances. Baggio also scored 3 goals in 3 European Playoff matches, 1 goal in 9 Coppa Italia appearances, and 4 goals in 6 European matches, including qualifying matches.
After two years with Inter, Baggio decided not to renew his expiring contract, due to his conflicts with Lippi, making him a free agent at the age of 33. He trained with a local amateur club near Vicenza during the summer of 2000, and was linked with smaller Serie A clubs such as Napoli and Reggina. Despite offers from several La Liga clubs, including Barcelona, as well as several Premier League clubs, Baggio transferred to previously unfashionable Serie A newcomers Brescia, under coach Carlo Mazzone, with his aim being to save them from relegation, staying in Italy in order to have a greater opportunity of being called up for Italy's 2002 FIFA World Cup squad. He was made captain and was given the number 10 jersey and played in more of a creative attacking-midfield role during his time at Brescia.
Despite injury problems which kept him sidelined during the first half of the season, he re-found his form, and managed 10 goals and 10 assists in the 2000-2001 Serie A season. Brescia finished in a comfortable joint 7th place (Brescia's best ever Serie A finish) and qualified for the Intertoto Cup, also reaching the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia, losing out to eventual winners Fiorentina. Baggio also helped Brescia to the final of the 2001 Intertoto Cup, where they were defeated by Paris Saint-Germain on away goals. Baggio scored one goal in this tournament, in the final from a penalty. His performances earned him a nomination for the 2001 Ballon d'Or, despite not having played in European competitions that season. He finished 25th overall in the rankings. Baggio was one of the best offensive playmakers in the league, and was also the winner of the Guerin d'oro Award in 2001, which is awarded by the Italian sports magazine il Guerin Sportivo, to the player with the highest average rating throughout the season, with 19 appearances or more.
At the start of 2001–02 season, he scored eight goals in the first nine games, leading him to the top of the Serie A goalscoring table. On his 8th seasonal Serie A appearance against Piacenza, Baggio scored the decisive goal for Brescia, and he sufferred an injury after being tackled; although it initially appeared to be a serious problem that would keep him out for three weeks, it was later diagnosed as a minor injury. He returned to the starting line-up a week later, against Venezia, scoring from a penalty, but he endured yet another more serious contusion, following a hard, illegal challenge, which caused him to tear the anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee severely, keeping him out for four months. He suffered a second serious injury that season, tearing the meniscus in his left knee, after finally returning to the team, and coming off the bench, in the Coppa Italia semifinal against Parma, on 31 January 2002. This second serious injury put his chances of playing at the upcoming World Cup in further jeopardy. He was operated on 4 February 2002, and despite this severe injury, came back three games before the end of the season, making a record recovery of 76 days.
On 21 April 2002, in the first game after his comeback, he came on as a substitute, as Josep Guardiola handed him back the captain's armband, and Baggio scored two goals against Fiorentina, helping Brescia to win the match; the first of his two goals came only two minutes after his substitution. He scored again against Bologna, saving Brescia from relegation on the final matchday, and bringing his seasonal tally in Serie A to 11 goals in 12 matches. Baggio also helped Brescia to reach the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia that season (the club's best ever result in the competition), losing to eventual winners Parma; although he went goalless throughout the competition, he provided several assists.
Despite Baggio's performances, Italy's coach at the time, Giovanni Trapattoni, did not deem him fully fit, and left him out of the final 23-man squad for the 2002 World Cup, as Italy were eliminated in the round of 16. Trapattoni also expressed concern about bringing Baggio to the World Cup due to the presence of Francesco Totti, Alessandro Del Piero and Cristiano Doni in his role, in addition to four strikers, believing that this could create a rivalry between the players. As he was not called up to the 2002 World Cup, Baggio reversed his initial decision to retire after the tournament, stating his intention to beat the 200 Serie A goal mark before retiring.
Baggio maintained a high level of performance in the next years with Brescia, under Mazzone's successor, Gianni De Biasi, attracting several notable players to the club. Baggio managed 12 goals and 9 assists during the 2002–03 season, helping Brescia to an 8th place finish and another UEFA Intertoto Cup spot. He scored his 300th career goal from a penalty on 15 December 2002, in Brescia's 3–1 home victory over Perugia, also setting up one of Tare's goals. He was the first player in over 50 years to reach this milestone, and with 318 goals, he is behind only Silvio Piola (364), Alessandro Del Piero, and Giuseppe Meazza (338) as the highest scoring Italian player in all competitions.
In the 2003-04 Serie A season, the final season of his career, Baggio recorded 12 goals and 11 assists. He scored his 200th goal in Serie A in a 2-2 draw against Parma, on 14 March 2004. His equalising goal also saved Brescia from relegation, as they finished the season in 11th place. Baggio was the first player in almost 30 years to surpass the 200-goal milestone, and is currently only one of six players to have accomplished the feat. Baggio scored his final and 205th Serie A goal of his career on the second last match-day, in a 2-1 home win over Coppa Italia winners Lazio on 9 May 2004; Baggio also set up Brescia's first goal. He played his last career game on 16 May 2004 on the final match-day of the season at the San Siro against Milan in a 4-2 loss to the Serie A champions, setting up Matuzalém's goal. In the 88th minute, Brescia coach Gianni De Biasi substituted Baggio; the 80,000 present at the San Siro gave him a standing ovation, and Paolo Maldini memorably embraced him before he left the pitch.
During his time at Brescia, Baggio scored 46 goals in 101 appearances in all competitions, scoring 45 goals in 95 Serie A appearances, and 1 goal in 2 European matches. Baggio also made 4 appearances in the Coppa Italia for Brescia, although he did not score in this competition during his time with the club. Baggio retired as Brescia's all-time leading goalscorer in Serie A. He ended his career with 205 goals in Serie A, making him the sixth-highest scorer of all time behind Silvio Piola, Gunnar Nordahl, Giuseppe Meazza, José Altafini and most recently, Francesco Totti. At the time of his retirement, he was the fifth highest goalscorer in Serie A of all time, until Totti overtook him in 2011. Baggio's number 10 jersey, which he had worn for 4 seasons, was retired by Brescia in his honour, and he is considered to be the club's greatest ever player by the local fans.
Before Baggio had joined Brescia, they had never been able to avoid relegation after being newly promoted to Serie A, in over 40 years. During the four years under Baggio, Brescia recorded their best ever Serie A run, and they were never relegated.
Baggio totalled 27 goals in 56 caps for his national team, making him the fourth-highest goalscorer of all time for Italy, tied with Alessandro Del Piero, who managed the tally in 91 appearances. He was called up for one Italy Under-21 match in 1987 under Cesare Maldini, although he was an unused substitute, and was no longer called up, strangely failing to make a single appearance for the azzurrini. His first senior International call-up was given to him by then Italy manager Azeglio Vicini, and he made his first appearance for Italy on 16 November 1988, at the age of 21, in a 1-0 friendly victory over the Netherlands; Baggio assisted Vialli's match-winning goal. He scored his first goal for Italy on 22 April 1989, from a free kick in a 1-1 draw against Uruguay in an International friendly match in Verona. In the friendly match against Bulgaria on 20 September 1989, Baggio scored the 500th goal of the Italian national team in Italy. He later added another goal during the match.
Baggio made his first and only starting appearance as Italy's captain the 1994 World Cup Qualifying match against Scotland, as Baggio was taken off in the final minutes due to an injured rib. He is the only Italian player ever to score in three World Cups with a total of 9 career World Cup goals, which puts him even with Christian Vieri and Paolo Rossi as Italy's top World Cup scorers.
For all his talent, he was never rewarded with a victory in an international competition. Despite his performances for Italy in the 1990, 1994 and 1998 World Cups, he never played for Italy in a European Championship, and is currently the Italian player with the most caps to never have played in a European Championship. Baggio was not called up often for the Euro 1992 Qualification matches, only making 3 appearances and scoring 2 goals, as Italy failed to qualify for the tournament, finishing second in their qualifying group behind the Soviet Union.
After the 1994 World Cup, Sacchi and Baggio infamously fell out. Their relationship began to deteriorate in September 1994, following a 1-1 draw against Slovenia in a Euro 1996 Qualifying match, where Baggio was benched. After a 2-1 defeat to Croatia in a Euro 1996 Qualifying match in November, their relationship hit the breaking point, and Baggio, supported by his teammates, asked for the manager's dismissal, requesting that he be replaced by Trapattoni. Due to his disagreement with Sacchi, Baggio was called up to the national team less frequently, only making one more substitute appearance under Sacchi in a 1-0 home win against Slovenia in a Euro 1996 Qualifier in September 1995, eventually losing his spot in the squad, and missing out on Italy's Euro 1996 roster, despite winning the Scudetto with Milan in 1996. Sacchi justified his decision by stating that Baggio was not fully fit, and that his replacement, Enrico Chiesa, helped the team more when possession was lost. Italy were eliminated in the group stage of the competition. Baggio was also excluded from Maldini's Italian Olympic Squad in 1996.
Baggio was also a member of the Italy squad that participated in the 1992 U.S. Cup. Baggio scored a goal in the friendly tournament, helping Italy to finish second. Baggio is mainly remembered for his performances for Italy at the 1994 World Cup. After leading Italy to the final, scoring 5 goals in the process, he infamously missed the deciding penalty in the final, which led to Italy losing the trophy to Brazil.
1990 FIFA World Cup
After an impressive season with Fiorentina, Baggio was called up for his first World Cup tournament in 1990, which was to be played at home. Baggio was often used as a substitute in the tournament, appearing in five matches, but only starting in four of them, as Italy's manager Vicini preferred the more experienced Gianluca Vialli.
Baggio was still able to display his ability throughout the World Cup, however, and Vicini's decision to not use him more frequently was later criticised, as Baggio's creative combinations with Schillaci were particularly praised. Baggio scored twice during the tournament, including the "goal of the tournament" in a 2-0 win in his first competitive international fixture, in Italy's final group stage match against Czechoslovakia. The goal, which led Baggio to be compared to Meazza, involved a one-two exchange with Giannini on the left wing, followed by a dribbling run from midfield, in which Baggio beat several players, wrong footing the last defender with a feint, before putting the ball past the goalkeeper. This goal was later elected to be the 7th best goal in World Cup history in a poll hosted by FIFA.
In the round of 16 match against Uruguay, which Italy won 2-0, Baggio started the play which led to Italy's first goal, scored by Schillaci. Baggio also scored a goal from a direct free-kick, but it was disallowed, as the referee had awarded an indirect free-kick. Baggio also had a goal incorrectly ruled offside in the quarterfinal match against Ireland, which Italy won 1-0. He created chances for Italy during the match, and was once again involved in the build-up which led to Schillaci's match winning goal. Italy were eliminated on penalties against defending champions Argentina in the semifinals after a 1-1 draw, although Baggio was able to net his penalty in the shootout. Baggio had come off the bench in the second half for Giannini, and came close to winning the match with a free kick, but it was saved by Sergio Goycochea.
In the 3rd-4th place final match against England, Baggio returned to the starting line-up, playing as an attacking midfielder behind Schillaci. He scored Italy's first goal of the match after stealing the ball from Peter Shilton. Platt momentarily equalised, but with five minutes left on the clock, Baggio put Schillaci on a one on one opportunity against the English keeper, and Schilaci was subsequently fouled inside the penalty area by Parker. Although Baggio was the regularly designated penalty taker for his national team, he stepped aside to allow Schillaci to score and capture the Golden Shoe, a gesture which was praised by the Italian media. Baggio assisted a goal by Berti in the dying minutes of the match, but it was incorrectly ruled offside. Italy won the match 2-1, capturing the 3rd place medal.
1994 FIFA World Cup
Baggio was Italy's top scorer during their qualifying campaign for the 1994 World Cup, scoring five goals. He helped Italy top their group and qualify for the World Cup, notably setting up Dino Baggio's winner in the decisive final group match against Portugal. One of his best performances during the World Cup qualifying campaign occurred on 14 October 1992, in a match against Switzerland. Italy were trailing 2-0 at home and Baggio led Italy to a comeback, scoring a goal, and helping his team to a 2-2 draw.
Baggio continued to be the cornerstone of the Italy team during the 1994 FIFA World Cup, wearing the number 10 jersey, and leading the team to the final, after a disappointing start. Italy's manager, Arrigo Sacchi, had been criticised for excluding key players, and for being unable to decide on a specific formation, as well as Baggio's definitive tactical role.
In the second match against Norway, he appeared more inspired. However, Italy goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca was sent off for handling the ball outside the area. Luca Marchegiani was brought in to replace him, and Arrigo Sacchi decided to take off Baggio, in what produced an outcry amidst the fans. Baggio later stated that Sacchi was "crazy." Italy, however, managed to win the match 1-0.
Italy continued to disappoint, as their final group match ended in a 1-1 draw against Mexico, and Baggio once again failed to have an impact on the result, also picking up a minor injury, which further hindered his performance. The Italians finished third in their group, drawing much criticism from the press. After seeing Baggio's nervous expression at the beginning of the match, Gianni Agnelli famously, called him "un coniglio bagnato" (a wet rabbit), hoping the jab would spur him on to score. Italy still managed to advance to the knock-out stages, however, as the best third-place team.
After under-performing during the group stage, Baggio refound his form in the knockout stages, where he started every match, and scored five memorable goals. He scored two in the round of 16, helping the ten-man Italian squad defeat Nigeria 2-1, after trailing for most of the match. Baggio scored his first goal of the match with 2 minutes left on the clock, after receiving ball at the edge of the area from Mussi; he placed the ball with an angled strike into the bottom left corner of the goal, sending the match into extra time. He then went on to score the winning goal from a penalty in extra time, after setting up Antonio Benarrivo with a lobbed pass, who was then fouled in the area.
Baggio scored another match-winning goal in the quarterfinals to top Spain 2-1 with 3 minutes remaining. After receiving the ball from Signori, he dribbled past the Spanish goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta, scoring off-balance from a tight angle. Baggio had also been involved in the build-up which led to Italy's first goal by Dino Baggio.
Baggio gave another dominant performance in the semifinals, and was named man of the match. He created several chances, and scored two more goals to beat Bulgaria 2-1, which allowed Italy to progress to the World Cup final for the first time in 12 years. Baggio scored his first goal after beating two players and curling the ball from outside the area into the bottom, far right corner. His second goal was assisted by Albertini with a lobbed ball; Baggio scored a half volley from a tight angle, placing the ball into the far bottom corner.
Baggio was not fully fit for the final against Brazil at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, after pulling his hamstring towards the end of the semifinal. Despite being far less dominant than in previous matches, he still tested Brazilian goalkeeper Claudio Taffarel on occasion, and was able to set up a few chances for his teammates. The match ended 0–0 after extra time; he took Italy's last penalty in the resulting shoot-out, but his kick went over the cross-bar and the Brazilians won the title in one of the most upsetting moments in World Cup history. Baggio later described the miss as the worst moment of his career, stating that it affected him for years. Before him, two other Italians, Franco Baresi and Daniele Massaro, had already missed penalties. Having led Italy to the final, Baggio received the Silver Ball as the second best player of the tournament, behind Romário, and the Silver Boot having finished tied for second in goals scored. He was also named in the World Cup All-Star Team. Baggio finished runner-up for the Ballon d'Or, with 136 points from a possible 245, and third place for the FIFA World Player of the Year in 1994.
1998 FIFA World Cup
After his lengthy absence from the National Team, Baggio was called up again by Cesare Maldini for a qualifying match against Poland; Baggio came off the bench and scored a goal. He was subsequently selected as one of Italy's 22 players for the 1998 World Cup following his performances with Bologna, where he finished the season as the top-scoring Italian player in Serie A. Baggio was given the number 18 jersey, as Del Piero had been handed the number 10 after a dominant season with Juventus.
In Italy's opening match of the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, Italy played Chile. Baggio started the match alongside Vieri, playing all 90 minutes, as Del Piero was still recovering from an injury he had endured in the Champions League final. Italy's first goal was scored by Christian Vieri from a Baggio assist. Chile managed to equalise at the end of the first half and eventually took the lead, with Marcelo Salas. Baggio created several chances throughout the match, but Italy were unable to equalise. Towards the end of the game, however, Baggio won back the ball on the right in the opposition half, and played an ingenious low cross into the box, which unintentionally touched Chilean defender Ronald Fuentes' hand at the edge of the penalty area, resulting in a fortunate penalty for Italy. Despite missing the decisive penalty in the shoot-out of the 1994 World Cup Final, Baggio stepped up to take the decisive spot-kick, and he scored Italy's equalising goal, making the final score 2–2. With this goal, he became the first Italian player to score in three World Cups. This was the first penalty he had taken for Italy since his miss in the previous World Cup final, and Baggio described the moment he scored as being "liberating". In Italy's 3-0 second group match win over Cameroon, Baggio assisted Di Biagio's opening goal, although his performance was not quite as strong, partially due to sustaining a minor injury from the harsh tackling of the opposition defence; he was replaced by Del Piero during the second half. Baggio scored his second goal of the tournament in Italy's final group match against Austria, which ended in a 2-1 win to Italy. Baggio came on during the second half, replacing Del Piero, after the crowd had begun to chant his name. Baggio scored the winning goal of the match, which allowed Italy to top their group, after combining with Moriero and Inzaghi. With this goal, he tied Paolo Rossi's record for most goals by an Italian player in the World Cup Finals, with 9. This was his 27th and final goal for Italy. He was left on the bench for Del Piero for the Round of 16 match against Norway as Italy advanced to the quarterfinals.
In the quarterfinal match against eventual champions France, Baggio came on as a substitute for Del Piero in the second half once again, and managed to create some scoring opportunities for Italy. The score remained 0–0, however, and the match went to extra time. Baggio came the closest to scoring the golden goal of the match, with a first time volley from a lobbed pass by Albertini, but his shot was put just wide of Barthez's far post. The match eventually went to yet another penalty shootout. Although Baggio this time netted his penalty, the shootout was won by the host nation, and Baggio and Italy were eliminated on penalties in a World Cup tournament for the third consecutive time. Italy's coach, Cesare Maldini was criticised for starting the recovering Del Piero ahead of Baggio, and he was also criticised for not allowing the two players to play alongside each other. There were several rumours at the time stating that the substitutions had created a rivalry between the two players. Despite these rumours, Baggio and Del Piero remain good friends to this day, with Baggio stating in an interview that he has the utmost respect for Del Piero, his leadership, and his timeless talent, and that there had never been disagreements between them. Del Piero also stated that he believed that Baggio and Zidane were the best players with whom he had ever played, and that "they were brilliant from a technical standpoint".
Baggio was initially a regular quad member under Dino Zoff, appearing as a substitute in two Euro 2000 Qualifying matches, including a 1-1 draw against Belarus in 1999, and most notably setting up a goal for Vieri in Italy's 2-0 win against Wales in 1998. Baggio also made a starting appearance in a friendly match in a 0-0 draw against Norway, in 1999, creating several chances, helping to set up a goal which was ruled offside, and hitting the post from a free-kick. He was later dropped from the squad however, after Inter's poor performance during the 1998-99 season, and he was subsequently not called up for Euro 2000 due to his limited playing time during the 1999-2000 season, and due to accusations made against his fitness levels. Zoff centred his squad around younger emerging offensive talents, such as Totti, Del Piero, Fiore, Del Vecchio, Inzaghi, and Montella, for the final tournament.
Baggio was also controversially excluded from the Italy 2002 FIFA World Cup squad. Italy's coach, Giovanni Trapattoni, believed him to not have fully recovered from the serious injury he had sustained during the season, and, although he was initially keen to include Baggio in the final 23-man list, ultimately excluded him from the squad. Fans and pundits criticised the omission, as Italy were eliminated by co-hosts South Korea in the Round of 16. Baggio had made a direct appeal to Trapattoni prior to the tournament by writing a letter to the then Azzurri coach. In the letter, he spoke of his love for the national team, the sacrifices he had made in recent months, and his desire to participate in the tournament. "Two years ago I decided to stay in Italy, choosing Brescia and Mazzone, to try and win a jersey for the World Cup."
Many fans still hoped to see him play for Italy at Euro 2004, or with the 2004 Olympics squad that eventually managed a Bronze Medal, but this was not to be the case. He was, however, given an international sendoff by Trappatoni at the age of 37, in a friendly match against Spain, on 28 April 2004, in which he wore the number 10 jersey for the final time, and the captain's armband for part of the match. Although Baggio entertained the crowd with his creativity and skill, he was unable to score, despite winning a free-kick from which Vieri's equalising goal arose. The match finished 1-1 and Baggio was given a standing ovation upon being substituted by Fabrizio Miccoli. This was his 56th and final match for Italy, and it was the first time an Italian footballer's career had been celebrated this way since Silvio Piola retired.
In 2001, Baggio wrote an autobiography entitled Una porta nel cielo ("A Goal in the Sky", but also "A Door in the Sky"), including details about his career, his childhood, his conversion to Buddhism, the missed penalty in the 1994 World Cup Final, his injuries, his personal life, and his rifts with managers. It won the award for best football book at the 2002 Serie A Awards.
On 16 October 2002, Baggio was nominated Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Through the organisation, Baggio helped to fund hospitals, raise money for the victims of the Haiti earthquake, contribute to tackling bird flu, and was involved in the Burmese pro-democracy movement, which supported the opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her release from prison.
In 2004, Baggio was voted 24th in the online UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll. The poll was organised to celebrate the best European footballers of the past 50 years. Baggio was also elected as part of the FIFA 100, which was a list of the 125 greatest living players, selected by Pelé, to commemorate the first 100 years since the founding of FIFA.
On his 40th birthday, Baggio started his new, official website (www.robertobaggio.com) to converse with fans. As per his website he does not intend to return to mainstream football, but rather exchange words with his fans on his blogs.
Baggio has had close ties with Argentina for many years. Baggio speaks some Spanish, and he owns a ranch property in Rivera, where he enjoys hunting wild game. In March 2008, he gave a lengthy interview with La Gazzetta Dello Sport. In it he discussed many topics, including the Argentinian team he now supports: Boca Juniors. Baggio stated: "How did I become a fan of Boca? It's an interesting story. A rainy Sunday, I was at my house with a friend of mine and I saw a game on TV. The score was 4–0, and was played at the Boca stadium, La Bombonera. At one point they scanned across the crowd at their fans: they danced, they sang, they twirled flags and banners. A contagious joy. I said to my friend, 'It's beautiful to do this when their team is winning.' And he turned to me and said: 'Roberto, are you watching? Boca are losing 0–4! …' From that moment Boca has become my team. That stadium gives me incredible feelings."
On 8 October 2008 Baggio appeared in a charity match between Milan and Fiorentina, which had been organised in honour of Stefano Borgonovo, and to raise money for his foundation, his treatment, and for ALS research. Borgonovo, who had played alongside Baggio at Fiorentina during the late 1980s, had been diagnosed with the incurable motor neuron disease ALS, and passed away in 2013.
Baggio was honoured with the 2010 Man of Peace award in Hiroshima, Japan, presented by the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in recognition of the recipient's charitable work and contribution to social justice and peace. According to The Guardian, Baggio described the moment he received the award as being very moving, stating "This is better than the Golden Ball award. Compared with this, other personal and professional achievements pale into insignificance."
In 2011, Baggio was inducted into the Serie A Hall of Fame, along with other notable footballers and coaches, such as Michel Platini and Marcello Lippi. He obtained his Italy Category 2 Coaching License (UEFA A License) in mid-2011, which made him eligible to coach Lega Pro teams, or work as vice-coach in Serie A and Serie B. Furthermore, in August 2010 he was named the technical director of the FIGC, the Italian Football Federation. On 5 July 2012, Baggio obtained his Category 1 UEFA Pro Coaching Licence at Coverciano, which will allow him to legally coach a professional Serie A football club. He was subsequently approached by his former agent and Serie B side Modena with regards to a coaching position, after being awarded with this qualification.
On 23 January 2013 Baggio stepped down from his position as the Director of the Technical Sector of the Italian Football Federation. He has stated that the Federation had ignored his ideas about improving the system and focusing on youth talent, which moved him to quit.
On 21 July 2014, Baggio featured in an unofficial friendly match between former Italy and Portugal legends, which was played at the BMO Field in Toronto, and which Italy won 2-0. In 2014, Baggio also took part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise funds for ALS research and awareness about the disease. On 1 September 2014, Baggio, along with many current and former footballing stars, took part in the "Match for Peace", which was played at the Stadio Olimpico, in Rome, with the proceeds being donated to charity. Baggio set up Iturbe's opening goal, and he scored a goal himself during the first half of the match from a Maradona assist, although his team was eventually defeated 5-3. Unusually, both he and Maradona wore the number 10 shirt, despite playing on the same team. In Milan, on the 25th October 2014, Baggio inaugurated the opening of the largest Buddhist temple in Europe.
Style of play and reputation
Roberto Baggio is considered one of Italy's greatest and most beloved players of all time. Gianni Brera, an Italian journalist who had seen both Italian Legends Giuseppe Meazza and Gianni Rivera play, stated that Baggio was the best and most talented Italian player he had ever seen. Baggio is also remembered as a symbol of the Italian National Team, due to his memorable World Cup performances. He usually functioned as a second-forward throughout his career (or rifinitore, in Italian), as he was known for scoring goals as well as creating them, which led Michel Platini to describe him as a "9 and a half", as he was not a true number 9 (the shirt number of a striker), due to his creative ability, but that he scored more than a number 10 playmaker. He would also state that Baggio's playing style coincided with the re-emergence of the attacking midfielder in Italian football during the late 90s and early 2000s. Whilst at Juventus, Gianni Agnelli referred to Baggio as an artist, comparing his elegance to the painter Raffaello, whilst he described the emerging talent Alessandro Del Piero as his student Pinturicchio. Baggio is widely regarded as one of the best players of his generation, and former Southampton footballer Matthew Le Tissier has stated in an interview that Baggio was the best player against whom he had ever played, whilst Baggio's former Inter team-mate Ivan Zamorano described him as "the best Italian player of his generation". Although he is a revered technical player, pundits' opinions of him were often divided, due to his creative style of play, which was thought to be out of place in the rigorous 4-4-2 and 3-5-2 formations which dominated Serie A the 90s.
Baggio was also a playmaker, or fantasista, and a tactically versatile player, who was comfortable attacking on both wings or through the centre of the pitch. This allowed him to play in various offensive positions, including as a striker, or as a winger, due to his crossing ability, although his preferred position was that of a free-role creative attacking midfielder, or trequartista. Throughout his career, however, he was rarely deployed in this position; it was only in his later years, in particular during his time at Brescia, that he was able to play this role, due to his vision, ball skills and varied passing range, as well as his eye for goal, which allowed him to be effective even at a more advanced age, despite losing pace, stamina, and agility. At Inter, he was also used as an outside forward, or inverted winger, and with Milan, under Tabarez, he was also occasionally utilised as a deep-lying midfield playmaker, or regista, alongside Demetrio Albertini or Edgar Davids, due to the presence of several offensive talents in the squad. Baggio was a set piece specialist renowned for his accurate, bending shots and free kicks, but he could also strike the ball with some power when necessary. His unique free kick technique influenced several other specialists, such as Andrea Pirlo. Despite being associated with the decisive miss in the 1994 World Cup Final shootout, Baggio was also a penalty kick specialist, and he has scored the most penalties in Serie A history. Although naturally right footed, he was comfortable using either foot, and often began dribbling with his left foot. Despite his skill and success, Baggio's career was affected by the many severe injuries he encountered, and he was considered an injury-prone player throughout his career.
Although he was not imposing physically, or in the air, Baggio was known for his pace, acceleration, positioning, awareness, reactions, and timing, which, along with his technical ability, allowed him to lose his markers, and made him lethal during individual dribbling runs on counter-attacks. Baggio was renowned for his skilful dribbling, ball control, balance, agility, and his ability to beat opponents with flair and feints in one on one situations, or when dribbling at speed, as well as his composure when finishing both inside and outside the area. As a playmaker, he was revered for his vision, creativity, passing ability, and tactical awareness, which enabled him to create attacking plays and goalscoring chances, and provide assists for team-mates. Baggio disliked the defensive, physical, and tactical nature of Italian football in the 90s; due to his preferred playing role, he felt out of place as a striker in a 4-4-2 formation, and he drew criticism from his managers when he moved out of position. He was also accused of not being a team player, as he would not always help to defend when possession was lost; it was also argued that he was an introvert who lacked influence and leadership on the pitch. Furthermore, he was criticised by coaches for trying to resolve situations himself too frequently, and for undertaking too many dribbling runs, although he has also been described as a "generous" player by several former team mates.
Although Baggio was never renowned for his defensive duties, he improved upon this aspect of his game as his career progressed, returning into deeper positions to press opponents and retrieve the ball, in order to start build-up plays. Due to his recurring injury problems, and his occasional disregard towards his defensive duties, Baggio was accused of being unfit and lacking stamina, something which Baggio frequently denied. Baggio is also regarded by the media as a controversial player, due to the difficulties he encountered with several managers. Notwithstanding his difficult reputation, he is also remembered for his class and correct behaviour on the pitch, a trait which referee Nicola Rizzoli has highlighted, describing him as very cooperative with officials. Furthermore, his former coach, Mazzone, stated that he never had difficulties with Baggio, and has praised his teamwork, determination, work ethic, and professionalism. He has also praised Baggio's tactical knowledge, stating that he should pursue a future coaching career, and he has also lauded him for his leadership and consistency, despite having played for many different clubs throughout his career.
Records and selected statistics
Baggio played in 16 World Cup matches for Italy. Ireland is the only team against which Baggio played more than once in his 16 games of FIFA World Cup play. He is the highest Italian goalscorer of all-time in the World Cup, with 9 goals from 16 appearances (along with Paolo Rossi and Christian Vieri). Baggio is currently the only Italian to have scored in three World Cups (2 goals in 1990, 5 in 1994, and 2 in 1998). 3 of his World Cup goals were scored in group-stage matches, and the remaining 6 were scored during the knockout rounds. Baggio is also the joint 4th highest goal scorer for the Italian National Team, along with Alessandro Del Piero, with 27 goals (Del Piero managed this tally in 91 appearances, with a 0.3 goal per match average however, whereas Baggio managed this tally in only 56 appearances, with a 0.48 goal per match average). When Baggio was in the national team, Italy always left the World Cup at penalty shootouts: in 1990, in the semi-finals against Argentina; in 1994, in the final against Brazil; and in 1998, in the quarter-finals against France. Therefore, in the 16 world cup matches in which he played, Italy lost only one, which was Italy's opening game of USA 94 against Ireland. Overall, in his 16 appearances at World Cups, Baggio has won 10 matches (4 in 1990, 4 in 1994 and 2 in 1998), drawn 5 (1 in 1990, 2 in 1994 and 2 1998 - 3 of these matches went to penalty shootout defeats), and lost 1 (in 1994).
Despite Baggio being associated with the fateful penalty miss against Brazil in the 1994 World Cup Final, he is statistically one of the greatest penalty kick specialists in Italian football history. Baggio has scored 85 percent of his penalties in Italian and International football, with only 19 career misses, scoring 108 out of 127 penalties in his career, in official matches (Baggio has also scored 2 penalties from 2 attempts for the FIFA All-Stars in 2 unofficial friendly matches), more than any other player in Italian football history. Baggio scored 10 of his 108 career penalties with Vicenza, 25 with Fiorentina, 38 with Juventus, 5 with Milan, 11 with Bologna, 1 with Inter, 11 with Brescia, and 7 with the Italian National side (out of 7 attempts). 68 of his penalties were scored in Serie A, from 83 attempts, with an 82% conversion rate, one of the best spot-kick records in Serie A history. In Serie A, Baggio scored 17 penalties for Fiorentina (from 19 attempts), 25 for Juventus (from 28 attempts), 3 for Milan (from 5 attempts), 11 for Bologna (from 11 attempts), 1 for Inter (from 2 attempts), and 11 for Brescia (from 18 attempts). Baggio also has the unique record of scoring penalties for 6 different Serie A clubs. 4 of his 15 missed penalties in Serie A were then scored by Baggio on rebounds. Baggio has taken and scored the most penalty kicks in Serie A history. 8 of Baggio's penalties were scored in Serie C (from 8 attempts), 8 of them were scored in European competitions (out of 9 attempts), 1 in the Italian Supercup (out of 1 attempt), and 16 were scored in the Coppa Italia (out of 19 attempts). In penalty shootouts, Baggio has made 3 out of 4 penalties in his career. Three of the shootouts in which he participated were with the Italian national side in World Cup Matches. Baggio scored twice in World Cup shootouts (in 1990 and 1998), with his only miss coming in the infamous 1994 World Cup Final shootout against Brazil.
Although he never won the capocannoniere (Serie A top goalscorer) title, Baggio is currently the 6th highest goalscorer of all-time in Serie A with 205 goals, having been surpassed by Francesco Totti in 2011 after he had occupied the 5th spot for almost 8 seasons. Of these 205 goals, 96 were decisive, meaning that they were either equalisers or match winners. A set-piece specialist, Baggio has also scored the fourth highest number of free kicks in Serie A, scoring 21 times. Ahead of him are only Del Piero with 22, Pirlo with 25, and Mihajlović with 28. In open play, Baggio has scored 9 headers in Serie A. 84 of his goals in open play were with his right foot, whilst 26 of them were with his left foot. He has also assisted over 118 goals in Serie A. He is the joint 4th highest scoring Italian in all competitions, along with Filippo Inzaghi, behind Alessandro Del Piero, Giuseppe Meazza and Silvio Piola, with 318 career goals.
The team against which Baggio has scored the most goals in his club career is Inter. He scored against Inter 17 times (scoring 13 goals against them in Serie A, and 4 in the Coppa Italia). With the Italian National side, the team against which Baggio has scored the most goals in his international career is Bulgaria, with 4 goals, including a double in the 1994 World Cup semi-final. The team against which Baggio earned his best goal to games ratio is Foggia. Baggio scored 8 goals in 7 matches against Foggia during his career. During the 1992-93 Season in Serie A, in the Juventus-Udinese fixture, Baggio scored 4 goals in a match for the first time in his career, with all goals occurring in open play. Baggio has eight career hat-tricks. Seven were scored in Serie A (one with Fiorentina, three with Juventus, one with Bologna, and two with Brescia), and one was scored in the Cup Winners Cup with Juventus. Baggio has also scored 45 career braces, with 27 in league play, 6 in the Coppa Italia, 7 in European competitions and 5 for the Italian national side. During the 2000-01 season with Brescia, Baggio recorded his personal record of most consecutive matches with a goal, where Baggio scored at least one goal for his side from the 24th matchday to the 29th matchday of the season, scoring 8 of his 10 Serie A goals of the season during those 6 matches. Baggio was regarded as a correct player, and has only been sent off four times in his career. He was sent off three times whilst playing for Fiorentina, all during the 1988-89 season, in his youth, (once in the Coppa Italia and twice in Serie A), and during the next 15 years of his career, he was sent off only once, in Serie A, whilst playing for Bologna during the 1997-98 season, for a reactionary foul following an unsanctioned dangerous challenge by Cleto Polonia.
Goals and Appearances in official club competitions:
- 318 goals in 699 appearances all official competitions (291 goals in 643 appearances in all official club competitions)
- 205 goals and 118 assists in Serie A in 452 matches (plus 3 goals and one assist in 4 European playoff matches)
- 76 goals from 91 penalties in the Serie A and Serie C League competitions (best all-time record in Italy with an 83.5% conversion rate) - 108 goals from 127 penalties in all competitions (excluding penalty shootouts - 3 goals out of 4 attempts).
- 32 goals in 63 appearances in European competitions (including 1 goal in 2 appearances in Qualifying matches)
- 5 goals in 11 appearances in the UEFA Champions League (1 goal in 2 caps in the Qualifying Rounds)
- 17 goals in 42 appearances in the UEFA Cup
- 1 goal in 2 appearances in the UEFA Intertoto Cup
- 9 goals in 8 appearances in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup
- 36 goals in 85 appearances in the Coppa Italia (plus 1 goal in 1 appearance in the Supercoppa Italiana)
- 13 goals in 36 appearances in Serie C1
- 1 goal in 2 appearances in the Coppa Italia Serie C
Goals and Appearances with the Italian national football team:
- 27 goals in 56 appearances for the Italian National Team.
- 9 goals in the World Cup finals in 16 appearances (2 in 1990, 5 in 1994, 2 in 1998)
- 6 goals in 10 appearances in World Cup qualifying matches
- 2 goals in 7 appearances in European Championship qualifying matches
- 10 goals in 23 appearances in international friendly matches
- 2 goals and 1 assist in 3 caps for the FIFA All-Stars
Legacy in popular culture
In 1994, the Italian satirist Corrado Guzzanti parodied Roberto Baggio's advertisement for Italian Petrol Company IP made prior to the 1994 World Cup. The Italian poet Giovanni Raboni composed the sonnet "Lode a Baggio" in a tribute to him. He has also been referenced in the songs "Baggio, Baggio" by Lucio Dalla and in "Marmellata n. 25" by Cesare Cremonini, as well as in the song "Chi ha Peccato" by Giuseppe Povia.
Baggio was also featured in several Italian commercials, the two most notable ones both reference his infamous penalty miss in the 1994 World Cup Final against Brazil. The first commercial to reference this, was made for Wind in 2000, and alters what happened historically, showing Baggio scoring the final penalty in the 1994 World Cup final after the ball initially hit the cross bar before bouncing in, allowing Italy to win the tournament. The other commercial, made for Johnnie Walker in 2001, showed how he managed to conquer his grief from the miss when he scored the equalising penalty against Chile in the 1998 World Cup and by believing in himself. He also featured in several Diadora commercials and advertisements since he endorsed their products.
Baggio is very popular in Japan, and has held close ties with the country since his conversion to Buddhism. As a result, he has endorsed several Japanese football video games such as Super Formation Soccer 95: della Serie A, World Football Climax, and the Japanese version of Let's Make a Soccer Team!. An animated version of himself also appeared in the Japanese football cartoon "Che Campioni: Holly & Benji".
In the Channel 4 sitcom Father Ted, Baggio (and Alessandro Costacurta) is mentioned during the 1995 episode, "Grant Unto Him Eternal Rest'", by Father Dougal McGuire (portrayed by Ardal O'Hanlon), who, when prompted to say the last rites in Latin, ends up saying the footballer's names. (This stems from Graham Linehan and O'Hanlon being fans of Football Italia).
Baggio was shown in the video to the 2010 World Cup song "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)" by Shakira. In the music video, footage is shown of him scoring a goal against Spain in the 1994 World Cup quarter final, and missing the infamous penalty against Brazil in the final of the same World Cup.
Baggio's skill, international fame, and popularity in Italy, has led him to be nicknamed the "Divin' Codino" and "Robi" by his fans. His popularity has also led him to be represented in several cartoons. An alter-ego of his is referenced in the Italian children's comics of "Mickey Mouse" and "Duck Tales" (Topolino), in the volume "Topolino e il Giallo alla World Cup" in which he is known as "Roberto Paggio", and where it is stated that his ponytail is the source of his footballing talent.
In 2011, the Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport issued a collection of DVDs entitled "Io Che Sarò Roberto Baggio" recounting his illustrious career and showing his goals and other iconic moments of his career. Baggio's strong impact on the world of football has recently been celebrated with the release of an online game called Baggio's Magical Kicks, in which players try and replicate his precision and accuracy to score free kicks and penalties. In an official FIFA poll, Baggio was voted the 9th greatest number 10 of all time.
- Includes UEFA Cup, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, and UEFA Intertoto Cup matches.
- 1990 Supercoppa Italiana
- Includes two appearances and one goal in the 1983–84 Coppa Italia Serie C.
- Includes appearance and assist in the 1988–89 Serie A 7th-place tiebreaker match against Roma to qualify for the 1989–90 UEFA Cup.
- Includes two appearances and one goal in the two-legged 1998–99 Coppa Italia third-place tiebreaker round against Bologna to qualify for the 1999–2000 UEFA Cup.
- Includes appearance and two goals in the 1999–2000 Serie A 4th-place tiebreaker match against Parma to qualify for the 2000–01 UEFA Champions League.
|Italy national team|
World Cup goals
|1.||19 June 1990||Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy||Czechoslovakia||2 – 0||2–0||1990||Group Stage|
|2.||7 July 1990||Stadio San Nicola, Bari, Italy||England||1 – 0||2–1||1990||Third place match|
|3.||5 July 1994||Foxboro Stadium, Foxborough, United States||Nigeria||1 – 1||2–1||1994||Round of 16|
|4.||5 July 1994||Foxboro Stadium, Foxborough, United States||Nigeria||1 – 2||2–1||1994||Round of 16|
|5.||9 July 1994||Foxboro Stadium, Foxborough, United States||Spain||2 – 1||2–1||1994||Quarter-Final|
|6.||13 July 1994||Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, United States||Bulgaria||1 – 0||2–1||1994||Semi-Final|
|7.||13 July 1994||Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, United States||Bulgaria||2 – 0||2–1||1994||Semi-Final|
|8.||11 June 1998||Stade du Parc Lescure, Bordeaux, France||Chile||2 – 2||2–2||1998||Group Stage|
|9.||23 June 1998||Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France||Austria||2 – 0||2–1||1998||Group Stage|
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- Official website
- Italian website
- Italian website dedicated to Baggio
- Swedish website dedicated to Baggio
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- FAO Goodwill Ambassador website
- Forza Italian Football's Legend Profile
- Roberto Baggio at Giant Bomb
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