Rossi in 1990
|Date of birth||20 July 1964|
|Place of birth||Cesena, Italy|
|Height||1.98 m (6 ft 6 in)|
|1982–1983||→ Forlì (loan)||11||(0)|
|1984–1985||→ Empoli (loan)||0||(0)|
|1985–1986||→ Rondinella (loan)||28||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
During a 21-year professional career, he appeared in 346 Serie A games, most notably representing A.C. Milan (12 seasons) with which he won 12 major titles, including five national championships and the 1994 Champions League.
Rossi was born in Cesena. Although he also played basketball competitively during his youth, he refused the opportunity to play the sport professionally, electing to focus on football instead; he joined his hometown's A.C. Cesena in 1979, at the age of 15. In 1982–83, on loan, he made his senior debuts with A.C. Forlì in the Serie C1, being backup in a relegation-ending season.
After two more loans, Rossi returned to Cesena for the 1986–87 campaign, only missing five games as the Emilia-Romagna club promoted to Serie A, and retaining first-choice status in the following three top division seasons, with the team finishing 12th in 1989–90; he made his debut in the competition on 13 September 1987, in a home match against S.S.C. Napoli.
After his first season in Italy's top flight, Rossi was noticed by A.C. Milan, and joined the Rossoneri (also dubbed the Dream Team) that dominated Italian football for much of the 1990s. In his debut campaign he backed up Andrea Pazzagli, but the veteran left for Bologna F.C. 1909 in the ensuing summer.
Rossi then briefly battled for starting duties with Francesco Antonioli, before becoming Milan's undisputed first-choice goalkeeper, being part of a defensive line that included, amongst others, Mauro Tassotti, Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta and Paolo Maldini, regarded as one of the greatest defensive units of all time.[a] Ironically, this strong defence was one of the reasons why Rossi was rarely called up for Italy: Arrigo Sacchi, who coached the national team during this time, evidently felt that it was the defence and not the goalkeeper that was responsible for the club's great success. Under Sacchi, he only received two international call-ups, but failed to make a single appearance for his country due to competition from several other world-class goalkeepers at the time, such as Gianluca Pagliuca and Angelo Peruzzi, among others; he still managed to have a successful club career under the tutelage of Fabio Capello, as the Invincibles went on a 58-match unbeaten run and won four Scudetti in five seasons, as well as the UEFA Champions League in 1994.
Following their 1996 Scudetto victory, Milan sharply declined thereafter, finishing 11th in 1997 and tenth in 1998, as Rossi's own career declined and saw him battling Massimo Taibi for the top spot. During round 17 of the 1998–99 season, Milan were leading A.C. Perugia Calcio 2–0 when they conceded a late penalty. After Hidetoshi Nakata converted it, teammate Cristian Bucchi was struck from behind by Rossi while retrieving the ball from the back of the net. Rossi was sent off and later was punished with a five-match ban.
After beating out newcomer Jens Lehmann (who would leave after playing only five matches) for the number-one jersey in 1998-99, Rossi was ultimately usurped by upstart Christian Abbiati, who had replaced him in the Perugia match.
Perugia / Retirement
After the 2001–02 campaign Rossi moved to Perugia, who were facing a goalkeeper crisis at the time. He contributed relatively as the team retained its top level status, then retired at the end of that sole campaign at the age of 39.
Rossi made one final appearance for Milan at the San Siro, in a testimonial match for Demetrio Albertini, his teammate for eleven seasons. Subsequently, he worked as goalkeeper coach in the club's youth department.
Style of play
Rossi was a tall, aggressive and physically strong goalkeeper, who was known mainly for his confidence and command of the area, as well as his handling and ability to come off his line to collect crosses, due to his height. He was also known for his vocal presence in goal, and his ability to organise his defence. Due to his good reactions, agility, athleticism and solid positioning, he was also an effective shot-stopper, and, despite his height, was capable of getting to ground quickly to parry shots, which made him adept at saving penalties. Despite his talent, he was at times criticised for his volatile, arrogant and controversial character, however, which led him to pick up several cards throughout his career, as well as his tendency to commit occasional costly mistakes, which, along with his height and athleticism, earned him the nickname "l'ascensore umano" (the human lift).
Rossi held the record for the longest streak without conceding a goal in Serie A history. In an 11-match span, from 12 December 1993 to 27 February 1994, he kept a clean sheet for 929 consecutive minutes before being beaten by a long-range strike by U.S. Foggia's Igor Kolyvanov;[b] he surpassed the previous mark set by Dino Zoff in 1972–73 by 26 minutes, and his own record of longest consecutive minutes without conceding was surpassed by Gianluigi Buffon on 20 March 2016, by 45 minutes.
Rossi also holds the record for the least goals conceded by a goalkeeper during a single 34-match Italian league season, with 11.
*European competitions include the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup, and UEFA Super Cup *Other competitions include the Italian Super Cup & Intercontinental Cup
- UEFA Champions League: 1993–94
- UEFA Super Cup: 1990, 1994
- Intercontinental Cup: 1990
- Serie A: 1991–92, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1998–99
- Supercoppa Italiana: 1992, 1993, 1994
- A.C. Milan Hall of Fame
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- "20 dicembre 1902: nasce Combi, il "nonno" di Zoff e Buffon" (in Italian). La Repubblica. 20 December 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
- From the third match (Juventus 6–0 Milan on 25 October 1925) to thirteenth match (Parma 0–3 Juventus on 28 February 1926) of the 1925–26 FIGC Football Championship according to (Italian) All Juventus FC matches: Italian Federal Championship (pages 14 and 15) - www.juworld.net.
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