Roberto Baggio

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Roberto Baggio
Roberto Baggio cropped.jpg
Baggio in 2013
Personal information
Full name Roberto Baggio
Date of birth (1967-02-18) 18 February 1967 (age 47)
Place of birth Caldogno, Italy
Height 1.74 m (5 ft 8 12 in)
Playing position Second striker
Attacking midfielder
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1982–1985 Vicenza 36 (13)
1985–1990 Fiorentina 94 (39)
1990–1995 Juventus 141 (78)
1995–1997 Milan 51 (12)
1997–1998 Bologna 30 (22)
1998–2000 Internazionale 41 (12)
2000–2004 Brescia 95 (45)
Total 488 (221)
National team
1988–2004 Italy 56 (27)
* 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 football forward and attacking midfielder/playmaker who was the former President of the Technical Sector of the FIGC. Widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, he came fourth in the FIFA Player of the Century Internet poll, and was chosen as a member of the FIFA World Cup Dream Team.[1] In 1993, Baggio was named FIFA World Player of the Year and won the Ballon d'Or.[2][3] In 2004, he was named one of the Top 125 greatest living footballers as part of FIFA's 100th anniversary celebration.[4] He is the only Italian ever to score in three World Cups, 1990, 1994 and 1998, and holds the record for most goals scored in World Cup tournaments for Italy, along with Paolo Rossi and Christian Vieri.[5][6]

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 Silver Boot and was named in the World Cup All-Star Team. At the 1998 FIFA World Cup he scored twice.

At club level, Baggio is one of the three top-scoring Italians in all competitions.[7][8] In 2002 he became the first Italian player in over 50 years to score more than 300 career goals.[9] He has won two Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia and a UEFA Cup, playing for seven different teams throughout his career.

Baggio is known as Il Divin' Codino (The Divine Ponytail), for the hairstyle he wore for most of his career, for his talent and for his Buddhist background.[1] 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.

Biography[edit]

Baggio was born in Caldogno, Veneto, son of Matilde and Fiorindo Baggio, the sixth of eight siblings. As a youngster, he always had a keen interest in the sport of football and played for a local youth club over a period of nine years. After scoring 6 goals in one game, Baggio was persuaded by scout Antonio Mora to join Vicenza. His younger brother, Eddy Baggio, was also a footballer who played 86 games in Serie B.[10] After his serious career threatening injury in 1985, Baggio, formerly a Roman Catholic, converted to Buddhism. Despite his conversion to Buddhism, 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.[11][12]

Club career[edit]

1982–1990: Vicenza and Fiorentina[edit]

Baggio began his professional career at native club Vicenza in Serie C1 during the 1982 season at the age of 15, in which Vicenza won the Coppa Italia Serie C. In his time at Vicenza, he won the Serie C1 title in the 1984-85 season, gaining promotion to Serie B. It was during his time at Vicenza that he was first seriously injured to his left knee after attempting a slide tackle. After an apparently successful operation, his knee collapsed again during a training session and he was operated again, requiring 220 stitches to have it rebuilt.[1]

Fiorentina snapped him up in 1985, and during his years there, despite initially being sidelined due to recurring injury problems, he rose to cult status among the team's fans who consider him to be one of their best ever players.[13] In his first season with the club, Fiorentina finished in 5th place and managed a semi-final finish in the Coppa Italia, making his debut for Fiorentina in the competition. He made his Serie A debut on 21 September 1986 against Sampdoria and scored his first league goal from a free kick on 10 May 1987 against Diego Armando Maradona's Napoli, in a match best remembered for Napoli winning the Scudetto for the first time in their history. He led Fiorentina to a Coppa Italia Quarter-final during the 1988-1989 season, in which he scored 9 goals, and was the second highest scorer after his future team mate Vialli, with a record 13 in the competition. Fiorentina were knocked out to eventual winners Sampdoria.[14] He also scored 15 goals in Serie A that year, finishing third in the capocannoniere title and he helped Fiorentina to finish in 7th place and win an UEFA Cup spot during that season by scoring in a tie-break qualifier against Roma. He led Fiorentina to the UEFA Cup final in 1990, in which he would be defeated by his future club, Juventus. Baggio was the second highest goalscorer in Serie A in the 1989-90 Serie A season after Marco Van Basten.

1990–1995: Juventus[edit]

Baggio was sold to Juventus, amid outcry from Fiorentina fans, in 1990 for €10 million (US$13.6 million), the world record transfer for a football player at the time. He also inherited the number 10 shirt. Following the transfer, there were full scale riots on the streets of Florence where fifty people were injured.[15] Baggio replied to his fans, saying: "I was compelled to accept the transfer". In the match he played for Juventus against Fiorentina in 1990, he refused to take a penalty; and when substituted he picked up a Fiorentina scarf thrown onto the field by fans and kissed it. He claimed: "Deep in my heart I am always purple", the colour of Fiorentina.[16] During his time at Juventus, between 1992 and 1995, he suffered five serious injuries: one was a fractured rib, tendinitis, an injured groin, an injury to the tendon of his right knee and an injury to his left knee.

In this first season at Juventus, he scored 14 goals and provided 12 assists in the league as Juventus finished out of possible European Qualifying spots in a disappointing 7th place, although they reached the semi-finals of the European Cup Winner's Cup, in which Baggio was top scorer. Juventus were eliminated by Cruyff's Barcelona "Dream Team", who lost in the final to Alex Ferguson's Manchester United. Juventus were eliminated in the Quarter finals of the Coppa Italia to eventual winners Roma. Juventus also lost the Supercoppa Italiana Final against Napoli, although Baggio scored Juventus' only goal of the match. Then Juventus coach Luigi Maifredi was replaced by 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 that season, Juventus had qualified for the UEFA Cup the next season as runners up in Serie A.

In the 1992–1993 season, he was appointed team captain, and he won his only European club trophy, helping Juventus to the UEFA Cup final in which he scored twice and assisted another, defeating Borussia Dortmund. He ended the competition as the second highest scorer. 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, although they managed a 3-1 win against eventual Serie A Champions, Milan, with a fantastic goal by Baggio. 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. Giuseppe Signori however managed 26. Baggio's performances earned him both the European Footballer of the Year, with 142 points from a possible 150,[17] and the FIFA World Player of the Year titles. He scored a personal best of 30 goals in all competitions during this season.

In the 1993-1994 season, Juventus once again finished runners up to Milan who won their third consecutive title, and Baggio finished 3rd in the Capocannoniere title with 17 goals and 8 assists in Serie A that season, whilst they were knocked out of the UEFA Cup in the Quarter Finals to Cagliari and in the Second Round of the Coppa Italia against Venezia. Marcello Lippi was called to replace Giovanni Trapattoni the following season.

In the 1994-1995 season, Baggio was injured for the most part, being ruled out for five months due to his recurring knee injury. He notched 8 assists, but only scored 8 goals in Serie A that season. He still managed to contribute to the win of his first Scudetto with Juventus, scoring important goals to clinch the title,[18] such as his memorable header against Milan, another crucial winner against Cremonese, as well as his goals against Parma and Reggiana. He also assisted 3 goals in the title-deciding match against eventual runners-up Parma, which Juventus won 4-0. This was the first of many league titles to come for Juventus in the 1990s. He also helped Juventus to win the Coppa Italia that year, scoring 2 goals and providing several assists. He helped lead Juventus to another UEFA Cup final, scoring 4 goals in the competition, including his free-kick against Borussia Dortmund in the semi-finals. Juventus were defeated in the final by Parma, whom they had also faced in the Coppa Italia final. He finished the season with 14 goals in all competitions. He scored 115 goals in all competitions during his time at Juventus, of which 78 were scored in Serie A.

1995–2000: Milan, Bologna, and Inter[edit]

In 1995, Lippi, Bettega and Umberto Agnelli stated that Baggio no longer entered into their plans at Juventus and decided to focus rather on the young emerging Italian star Alessandro Del Piero.[18][19] After strong pressure from Milan chairman Silvio Berlusconi, he was sold to the Milanese club, amidst several protests from the fans.[20][21] At this time, he had been linked with Inter,[22] as well as with English Premier League clubs Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers, but no firm offers were made from either of these clubs. He helped Milan win the Serie A title, 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, of which 7 were scored in Serie A. He also provided 10 assists in Serie A that season. He became one of the six players to win the Scudetto in consecutive years with different teams (along with Giovanni Ferrari, Riccardo Toros, Eraldo Mancin, Alessandro Orlando and most recently, Andrea Pirlo).[23] He would also make his Champions' League debut in the 1996-97 season, scoring his first goal in the competition, although Milan would be rather disappointingly knocked out in the group stage. Milan finished runners up in the 1996 Supercoppa Italiana Final, as Baggio was left on the bench. During his time at Milan, Baggio had several disagreements with manager Fabio Capello due to limited playing time, since Capello believed that although Baggio was a talented player, he was no longer fit enough to play for 90 minutes.[18] With new manager Oscar Tabarez, despite initial disagreements, in which Tabarez didn't believe that lightweight, creative players could function in the modern physical game, the situation seemed to improve and Baggio was often started in his preferred trequartista role alongside Weah, however after a series of disappointing results, Arrigo Sacchi was called in as a replacement during the 1996-97 season, the manager with whom Baggio had previously argued during the 1994 World Cup.[18][24] Sacchi gave Baggio limited playing time at Milan that season as Milan failed to retain their league title and were knocked out once again in the quarter finals of the Coppa Italia.[25]

In 1997, Baggio transferred to Bologna in order to resuscitate his career, save them from relegation, and earn a place at the 1998 FIFA World Cup. He scored a personal best of 22 goals in Serie A that year, as well as providing 6 assists, leading Bologna to an 8th place finish, allowing them to qualify for the Intertoto Cup and eventually the UEFA Cup, and leading them to the Round of 16 in the Coppa Italia that season. He was known to have had difficulties with his manager at the time, Renzo Ulivieri, in particular during one incident in which Ulivieri, at the very last moment, left him out of the starting 11 for the match against eventual Serie A Champions, Juventus.[26] Ulivieri however later denied ever having any difficulties with Baggio, also stating that Baggio was "a talented player" and "a nice guy".[27] At the beginning of the season, Baggio rather shockingly cut off his iconic ponytail, signifying his rebirth.[25]

After the 1998 World Cup, Baggio signed with Internazionale. This proved to be an unfortunate move, as after disappointing results and several managerial changes (including Luigi Simoni 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. Whilst at Juventus, he had previously chosen to sell him to Milan in 1995. This lack of playing time and exclusion from the first team caused Baggio to eventually lose his place in the national team, and Baggio was not called up for Euro 2000. In his autobiography, Baggio later declared that Lippi had effectively dumped him after Baggio had refused to point out which of Inter's players had expressed negative opinions about the coach.[25] During his time at Inter, Baggio did however manage a memorable brace against Real Madrid, in the 1998-1999 Champions League Group Stage. He scored 4 goals in total and helped lead Inter to the quarter finals, in which Inter were knocked out by the eventual winners, Manchester United. Baggio scored 5 goals and provided 10 assists in Serie A that season and also helped lead Inter to a Coppa Italia Semifinal, losing out to eventual winners, Parma, although they finished in a disappointing 8th place in Serie A. In the 1999-2000 season, Inter were runners-up to Serie A winners Lazio in the Coppa Italia Final. Baggio was not often played that season, scoring only 4 goals during the regular Serie A season and 1 goal in the Coppa Italia, whilst he was not played in Europe. Baggio still managed several important goals, as Inter managed to finish in fourth place, tied with Parma. His last important contribution to Inter was scoring two memorable goals against Parma (one from a freekick on the right, beating goalkeeper Buffon on the near post from a tight angle; the other a half volley from outside the area with his left foot) in the playoff for the last remaining UEFA Champions League place, which Inter won 3–1. 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 made it into 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 his manager.[25]

2000–2004: Brescia[edit]

After two years with Inter, in order to be called up for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, he transferred to previously unfashionable Brescia, under Carlo Mazzone, his aim being to save them from relegation. He was made captain and was given the number 10 jersey and played in more of a trequartista role during his time at Brescia. Despite initial injury problems, he managed 10 goals and 10 assists in the 2000-2001 Serie A season, including a memorable brace against Fiorentina, a game winning penalty against Inter, a late equalising free kick against Napoli, and a late equaliser against Juventus at the Delle Alpi Stadium, assisted by Andrea Pirlo. He also scored a hat-trick against Lecce, in which he scored his second goal of the match directly from a corner kick. Brescia finished in a comfortable joint 7th place and qualified for the Intertoto Cup, also reaching the Quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia that season, losing out to eventual winners and Baggio's former team Fiorentina. Brescia lost in the final of the 2001 Intertoto Cup against Paris Saint-Germain. 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.[28]

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. Unfortunately, during that season, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee twice; despite this severe injury, he came back three games before the end of the season, making a record recovery of 76 days. In the first game after his comeback, he came in as a substitute, as Josep Guardiola handed him back the captain's armband, and Baggio scored two goals against his former team Fiorentina, the first of them after only two minutes from the start of the match from a bicycle kick with his left foot. He scored again against another team he played for, Bologna, saving Brescia from relegation on the final matchday. Baggio also helped Brescia to reach the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia that season, losing to eventual winners Parma; although he went goalless throughout the competition, he provided several assists. The second leg of the semi-final match was the fatal game in which Baggio was injured for a second time that season.

Baggio maintained a high level of performance in the next years with Brescia under Gianni De Biasi, managing 12 goals and 9 assists in the 2002/03 season, and 12 goals and 11 assists in his final season. He scored his 200th goal in Serie A against Parma, on 14 March 2004.[29] This goal also saved Brescia from relegation, as they finished the season in a comfortable 8th place. Baggio was the first player in almost 30 years to surpass the 200 goal milestone. He played at Brescia until his retirement at the end of the 2003/2004 season. He played his last game on 16 May 2004 at the San Siro against Milan, setting up one of Brescia's goals in a 4-2 loss to the Serie A champions. In the 88th minute, Brescia coach Gianni De Biasi subbed Baggio off so he could get his curtain call. The 80,000 present at the San Siro gave him a standing ovation. 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 Francesco Totti overtook him in 2011. Baggio's number 10 jersey, which he had worn for 4 seasons, was retired by Brescia in his honour.[30] He scored his 300th career goal on 16 December 2002 in Brescia's 3–1 home victory over Piacenza. He was the first player in over 50 years to reach this milestone, and now with 319 goals along with Alessandro Del Piero, is behind only Piola (364) and Meazza (338). Before Baggio had joined Brescia, they had never been able to avoid relegation after being newly promoted to Serie A in over 40 years. Under Baggio, they were never relegated, however after his retirement, in the 2004-05 season Brescia were relegated to Serie B once again.[31]

International career[edit]

Baggio totalled 27 goals in 56 caps for his national team, the fourth-highest of all time for Italy, tied with Alessandro Del Piero, who managed this tally in 91 appearances however. He was initially called up for one Italy-U21 Match in 1987, although he was an unused substitute. His first professional 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 the International friendly match against the Netherlands, which was won by Italy 1-0. He scored his first goal for Italy on 22 April 1989, from a free-kick against Uruguay in an International friendly in Verona, which ended in a 1-1 draw. 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. 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 at World Cups, he has never played for Italy in a European Championship. Baggio was not called up very 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 group behind the Soviet Union.[32] After the 1994 World Cup, Sacchi and Baggio infamously had a falling out and Baggio was no longer called up to the national team, missing out on Euro 1996, despite winning the Scudetto with Milan in 1996. After leading Italy to the final of the 1994 World Cup, scoring 5 goals in the process, he infamously missed the deciding penalty in the final of the 1994 FIFA World Cup, which contributed to Italy losing the trophy to Brazil.

1990 FIFA World Cup[edit]

Baggio's first World Cup was the 1990 FIFA World Cup, and although he was used most often as a substitute in the tournament, he was still able to display his quality, play-making skills, and scoring ability, scoring twice including the "goal of the tournament" against Czechoslovakia, involving a dribbling run, beating several players, before putting it past the keeper. This goal was later elected to be the 7th best goal in World Cup History in a poll hosted by FIFA.[33] Italy were eliminated on penalties against Argentina in the semi-finals, although Baggio was able to net his penalty. Baggio is also much remembered for his class; in the 3rd-4th place final match against England, he managed to help win a crucial penalty for Italy. Although he was regularly designated the penalty taker for his team, he stepped aside when he was awarded one, allowing his teammate Salvatore Schillaci to score and capture the Golden Shoe. He also managed a goal in that match, allowing Italy to capture the 3rd place medal, as the match ended 2-1 in their favour.

1994 FIFA World Cup[edit]

Baggio was the cornerstone of the Italy team during the 1994 FIFA World Cup, wearing the number 10 jersey, and leading them to the final after a disappointing start. The Italy 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 role (striker, trequartista/playmaker or second forward/rifinitore. Baggio eventually ended up playing as a forward, but in a free "fantasista" role.)[34][35]

In the disappointing first match against Ireland, Italy were defeated 1-0. Baggio was not yet at his best in this match since he was recovering from an injury to his Achilles tendon, although he attempted several assists for his team-mates, who were also criticised by the Italian press for not supporting Baggio enough when he retreated into the midfield or onto the wings to pick up the ball and try to create attacking plays for Italy.[36]

In the second match against Norway, he seemed more inspired, creating chances and almost scoring a goal in the opening minutes, 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 in an interview that Sacchi was "crazy."[37] Italy however managed to win the match 1-0.[38]

Baggio had difficulty getting into their third match in the group stage, as Italy drew 1-1 against Mexico, finishing in third place in their group. They however managed to advance to the knock-out stages as the best third-place team.[39]

Baggio re-found his form in the knockout stages however, and scored five memorable goals, starting every match from the beginning. He scored two in the round of 16 to beat Nigeria (scoring with a low drive placed into the bottom left corner, from just inside the right half of the penalty area, with 2 minutes left of the game sending it into extra time. He then scored another goal from a penalty in extra time, after setting up Antonio Benarrivo with a lobbed pass, who was then fouled in the area).[40]

Baggio scored another goal in the quarter-finals to top Spain (the game winner with 3 minutes remaining, assisted by Signori. He dribbled past and jumped over the goalkeeper, scoring off-balance from a tight angle).

He scored two more goals to beat Bulgaria in the semi-finals; the first was after a throw-in on the far left side of the pitch in the opposition half. Baggio controlled the ball, beat two players and curled the ball from outside the area, past the keeper, into the bottom right corner. The second was a half volley from a tight angle, inside the area, on the right-hand side of the goal, assisted by Albertini with a lobbed throughball.[41]

Baggio was not fully fit for the final against Brazil, after pulling his hamstring in the semi-final,[42] although he still tested Claudio Taffarel and was able to set up a few chances for his team mates. 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 what would be remembered as one of the most upsetting moments in World Cup History. Two other Italians, Franco Baresi and Daniele Massaro, had already missed penalties.[43]

Baggio finished tied for second in the tournament in goals scored and was named one of the top three players, also being elected to be part of the team of the tournament. Baggio finished runner-up for the Ballon d'Or, with 136 points from a possible 245,[44] and in 3rd place for the FIFA World Player that year.[34]

1998 FIFA World Cup[edit]

After his lengthy absence from the National Team, Baggio was called up again by Cesare Maldini for an important Qualifying match against Poland. Baggio scored the winning goal in that match, helping Italy to come one step closer to qualifying for the World Cup. He was subsequently selected as one of Italy's 22 players for the 1998 World Cup following his performances that season for Bologna. Baggio was given the number 18 jersey that he had worn for Milan and for Italy in recent matches, since the young star 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, Italy played Chile. Baggio started the match alongside Vieri, playing all 90 minutes, since Del Piero was still recovering from an injury. Italy's first goal was scored by Christian Vieri on an assist by Baggio.[45] Towards the end of the game a Baggio cross touched Chilean defender Ronald Fuentes' hand,[46] resulting in a penalty scored by Baggio which made the score 2–2. With this goal, he became the first Italian player to score in three World Cups. Baggio assisted Di Biagio's goal against Cameroon, and scored a goal in that game, which was however incorrectly ruled offside. His performance was not quite as strong in this match, partially due to the heavy marking and harsh tackling of the opposition defense.[47] Baggio scored his second goal of the tournament against Austria, scoring the winning goal after a splendid one-two with Filippo Inzaghi as Italy topped their group. He also assisted a goal for Inzaghi which was once again incorrectly called offside.[48] With this goal, he tied the record for most goals by an Italian player in the World Cup Finals, with 9. This was also his last goal he scored for Italy. He was left on the Bench for Del Piero for the Round of 16 match against Norway as Italy advanced to the quarter finals.[49]

In the quarter-final match against the hosts and eventual World Cup Champions France, Baggio came on as a substitute in the second half. The score remained 0–0 and the match went to extra time, with Baggio coming closest to scoring the golden goal with a volley. The match eventually went on to yet another penalty shootout. Although Baggio this time netted his penalty, the shootout was won by the host nation.[50] Italy's coach, Cesare Maldini was criticised for starting the recovering Del Piero ahead of Baggio (who appeared to be in better form and under less pressure from the public) for the quarter-final match against France.[51] 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 at Juventus and his timeless talent, and that there had never been disagreements between them.[52][53] Del Piero also stated that he believed that Baggio and Zidane were the best players with whom he had ever played, and that "technically they were brilliant and a delight to watch".[54]

Later career[edit]

Baggio was not called up for Dino Zoff's squad in Euro 2000 due to limited playing time at Inter that season. He was also excluded from the Italy 2002 FIFA World Cup squad, as Italy's coach Giovanni Trapattoni considered him not fully recovered from injury. Fans and pundits criticised the omission of Baggio, as Italy were eliminated by 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."[55] Despite Baggio's plea, he was ultimately left out of Trapattoni's squad. Many hoped to still see him play for Italy at Euro 2004 or for the Italian Football Team at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, that eventually managed a Bronze Medal, although this was not to be the case.[56][57] He was however given an international sendoff by Trappatoni in a friendly against Spain on 28 April 2004, in which he wore the number 10 jersey and the captain's armband for part of the match. The match finished 1-1 and Baggio was given a standing ovation upon being substituted. This was his final match for Italy, and it was the first time an Italian footballer's career had been celebrated in this way since Silvio Piola.[37]

After retirement[edit]

Graffiti of Roberto Baggio in Milan

Baggio was given an international send-off match on 28 April 2004 against Spain. He was invited to play for the European XI at the Football for Hope Indian Ocean tsunami relief benefit on 15 February 2005 at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, but he declined the invitation.

In 2001, Baggio wrote an autobiography titled Una porta nel cielo ("A Goal in the Sky", but also "A Door in the Sky"), including details about his career, the missed penalty in the 1994 World Cup Final, his injuries, personal life and rifts with managers. It won the award for best football book at the 2002 Serie A Awards.[58]

On 16 October 2002, Roberto Baggio was nominated Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).[59]

In 2003, Baggio was the inaugural winner of the "Golden Foot" award.[60]

On his 40th birthday (18 February 2007), Baggio started his new website (www.robertobaggio.com) to converse with his fans. As per his website he does not intend to return to mainstream football, but rather exchange words with his fans on his blogs.

In March 2008 Baggio—who has owned a ranch property in Argentina for many years—gave a lengthy interview with Gazzetta Dello Sport. In it he discussed many topics, including the team he now supports: Boca Juniors. "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."[1]

On 8 October 2008 Baggio appeared in a charity match between Milan and Fiorentina for Stefano Borgonovo, with whom Baggio played at Fiorentina during the late 1980s.[61]

August 2010 marked Roberto Baggio's comeback into Italian football, as he was appointed as president of the technical sector of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), replacing Azeglio Vicini.[62]

On November 2010, Baggio was awarded the World Peace Award, an annual award bestowed by Nobel Peace Prize laureates.[63]

He obtained Italy Category 2 Coaching License (UEFA A License) in mid-2011, made him eligible to coach Lega Pro teams or as vice-coach in Serie A and Serie B. Furthermore, since August 2010 he is the technical director of the FIGC, the Italian Football Federation.[64]

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.[65]

On July 5, 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.[66][67]

On January 23, 2013 he stepped down from his position as the Director of the Technical Sector of the Italian Football Federation. He has stated that the Federation had not listened to his ideas about improving the system and focusing on youth talent, which moved him to quit.[68]

Style of play[edit]

Roberto Baggio is considered one of Italy's greatest and most beloved players of all time. Gianni Brera, a famous Italian sports writer who had seen both the Italian Legends Giuseppe Meazza and Gianni Rivera play, stated that Baggio was the best Italian player he had ever seen.[1] Baggio is also remembered as a symbol of the Italian National Team.[69] He began his career as a second-forward, or rifinitore in Italian, although he was known for scoring goals as well as providing assists, which would lead Juventus legend Michel Platini to describe him as a "fantastic 9 and a half", referring to the fact that he was not a true number 9, the shirt number of a striker, but that he scored more than a classic 10.[70] He would go on to state that Baggio's playing style coincided with the emergence and popularisation of the trequartista in Italian football. During his time at Juventus, Gianni Agnelli referred to Baggio as an artist, comparing him to the painter Raffaello, whilst he described the emerging talent and his heir Alessandro Del Piero, as the student Pinturicchio.[71]

Baggio was also a playmaker, or fantasista, and was a versatile player comfortable attacking on both wings as well as in the centre of the pitch, which allowed him to play in various positions along and behind the front line throughout his career, including as a striker or a winger although his preferred position was that of a more advanced trequartista.[72] In his later career, he played as a trequartista or attacking midfielder. Baggio was a set piece and penalty kick specialist, who influenced several other future specialists, such as Andrea Pirlo.[73] Although naturally right footed, he was comfortable using either foot, and usually began dribbling with his left foot.[74] Despite his success, skill and talent, Baggio's career is thought to have been affected by the many severe injuries he encountered.[75] Although he was not imposing physically, he was known for his pace, acceleration, and timing, that gave him the ability to lose his markers.[76] He was renowned for his vision, creativity, technical skills, passing, and tactical awareness, that allowed him to pick out attacking players making runs, and provide them with assists.[76] His dribbling, ball control, balance, agility and his ability to beat defenders (particularly in one on one situations) were also highly praised, as well as his finishing.[76] He has been known for his leadership and consistency, despite having played for many different clubs, as well as having had recurring injury problems and difficulties with several of his managers.[76][77]

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

Season Club League League Cup Europe Total
Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
1982–83 Vicenza Serie C1 1 0 - 1 0 - 2 0
1983–84 6 1 - 4 1 - 10 2
1984–85 29 12 - 5 2 - 34 14
1985–86 Fiorentina Serie A 0 0 0 5 0 - 5 0
1986–87 5 1 2 4 2 1 0 10 3
1987–88 27 6 1 7 3 - 34 9
1988–89 30 15 3 10 9 - 40 24
1989–90 32 17 6 2 1 12 1 46 19
1990–91 Juventus Serie A 33 14 12 6 4 8 9 47 27
1991–92 32 18 8 8 4 - 40 22
1992–93 27 21 6 7 3 9 6 43 30
1993–94 32 17 8 2 2 7 3 41 22
1994–95 17 8 8 4 2 8 4 29 14
1995–96 Milan Serie A 28 7 10 1 0 5 3 34 10
1996–97 23 5 2 5 3 5 1 33 9
1997–98 Bologna Serie A 30 22 6 3 1 - 33 23
1998–99 Internazionale Serie A 23 6 10 6 0[78] 6 4 35 11
1999–00 18 6 2 5 1 - 23 7
2000–01 Brescia Serie A 25 10 10 2 0 - 27 10
2001–02 12 11 3 1 0 1 1 13 12
2002–03 32 12 9 0 0 - 32 12
2003–04 26 12 11 0 0 - 26 12
Total Italy 488 221 117 88 38 61 32 637 291
Career total 488 221 117 88 38 61 32 637 291

[79][80][81][82]

International[edit]

Italy national team
Year Apps Goals
1988 1 0
1989 6 3
1990 9 4
1991 2 1
1992 7 6
1993 7 5
1994 12 5
1995 1 0
1996 - -
1997 2 1
1998 6 2
1999 2 0
2000 - -
2001 - -
2002 - -
2003 - -
2004 1 0
Total 56 27

World Cup goals[edit]

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result World Cup Round
1. 1990-06-19 Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy  Czechoslovakia 2 – 0 2–0 1990 Group Stage
2. 1990-07-07 Stadio San Nicola, Bari, Italy  England 1 – 0 2–1 1990 Third place match
3. 1994-07-05 Foxboro Stadium, Foxborough, United States  Nigeria 1 – 1 2–1 1994 Round of 16
4. 1994-07-05 Foxboro Stadium, Foxborough, United States  Nigeria 1 – 2 2–1 1994 Round of 16
5. 1994-07-09 Foxboro Stadium, Foxborough, United States  Spain 2 – 1 2–1 1994 Quarter-Final
6. 1994-07-13 Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, United States  Bulgaria 1 – 0 2–1 1994 Semi-Final
7. 1994-07-13 Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, United States  Bulgaria 2 – 0 2–1 1994 Semi-Final
8. 1998-06-11 Stade du Parc Lescure, Bordeaux, France  Chile 2 – 2 2–2 1998 Group Stage
9. 1998-06-23 Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France  Austria 2 – 0 2–1 1998 Group Stage

Honours[edit]

Club[edit]

Juventus
Milan
Bologna

International[edit]

Italy National Football Team

Individual[edit]

Selected statistics[edit]

Goals and Appearances:

Religion[edit]

Baggio, formerly a Roman Catholic, practices Nichiren Buddhism and is a member of the Soka Gakkai International Buddhist organization.[83]

Records[edit]

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 Rossi and Vieri).[84] Baggio is currently the only Italian to have scored in three World Cups.[84] Baggio has scored 87 percent of his penalties in Serie A and International football, scoring 108 out of 122 penalties, more than any other player in Italian football history. 4 of his 14 missed penalties were then scored by Baggio on rebounds.[85]

When Baggio was in the national team, Italy always left the World Cup at penalties: in 1990 against Argentina, in 1994 against Brazil, and in 1998 against France. Therefore, in the 16 world cup matches he played, Italy lost only one, which was Italy's opening game of USA 94 against Ireland.

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.[86] He has also assisted over 113 goals in Serie A.[87] He is the joint 4th highest scoring Italian in all competitions, behind Alessandro Del Piero, Giuseppe Meazza and Silvio Piola, with 318 goals. He is also the joint 4th highest goal scorer for the Italian National Team, along with Alessandro Del Piero, with 27 goals.[88]

Legacy[edit]

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.[89]

In 1994, the Italian satirist Corrado Guzzanti parodied Roberto Baggio's advertisement for Italian Petrol Company IP made prior to the 1994 World Cup.[90]

Baggio is very popular in Japan,[91] for example, he endorsed video games like Super Formation Soccer 95: della Serie A,[92] World Football Climax,[93] and the Japanese version of Let's Make a Soccer Team!.[94][95]

The Italian poet Giovanni Raboni composed the sonnet "Lode a Baggio" in his honour.[96]

He has also been referenced in the songs "Baggio, Baggio" by Lucio Dalla[97] and in "Marmellata n. 25" by Cesare Cremonini,[98] as well as in the song "Chi ha Peccato" by Giuseppe Povia.

An animated version of himself also appeared in the Japanese football cartoon "Che Campioni: Holly & Benji".[99]

Baggio was also featured in several Italian commercials, the two most notable ones both reference his 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.[100] 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.[101] He also featured in several diadora commercials and advertisements since he endorsed their products.[102]

He was shown in the video to "Waka Waka" the 2010 World Cup song 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.

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."[103]

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.[104]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Netherlands Ruud Gullit
World football transfer record
1990–1992
Succeeded by
France Jean-Pierre Papin
Preceded by
Italy Stefano Tacconi
Juventus F.C. captains
1992–1995
Succeeded by
Italy Gianluca Vialli