Rossano Rossi: 'I'll tell you about my brother Paolo'

Pablito's brother tells the story of the boy who gave us the joy of the world championship exclusively on Oggi. From dribbling among the olive trees to disease. 'An ordeal, and then that last phone call ...'

  rossano-paolo-rossi-today-38 Paolo and Rossano Rossi Photo Video

When I shot the film about the life of Paolo Rossi, It was all beautiful , I met Rossano, Paolo's older brother. She looks like him, speaks and smiles like him. Rossano was also very good at playing football. But perhaps he had less determination, less grit. We met on the outskirts of Prato, in Santa Lucia, the hamlet where the Rossi family lived. We remembered those years on the pitch where he and Paolino played as children. Long before Rossano became an accountant and Paolo, with the victory at the 1982 World Cup, turned into Pablito for the whole world - Photo | video

Rossano, what was your children's room like? 'Small. We had a single bed for one and a half, we slept there together, because in our house there were three families: my grandfather and my grandmother, my uncle and my aunt, father and mother, and then us, me and Paolo. There was no heating and therefore, especially in winter, we hugged each other to warm up and before sleep we talked a little about what we wanted, dreamed of. Paolo had promised himself to arrive in Serie A. he had an iron will, unlike me, and other natural gifts, because he is born with this DNA and also the right mind ».

How was your day as a child? 'At school until one, at Abatoni. We went on foot, it must have been 500 meters. When she came back, we had lunch and then, immediately after, 'mom, we go out'. And that was where our afternoon of games began. Mainly football if there was the ball, because it wasn't always there. Otherwise it was mounted on the olive trees, especially in the summer. Since there are cicadas singing here, we went to get them and they took them to the pharmacy, because they bought them for five or ten lire each. Then there was a slope, they took the cartons and sat on them to make a quick descent '.

What time did it end? «Most of the time our mother came to call us:“ Paolo! Rossano! Come back! '. And woe to him if he had her dirty shoes. There was a fountain in the olive grove. Before returning home, we passed by there, we wet our shoes a little, because otherwise they were scapaccioni. Father was very fond of it. In fact, he got up in the morning, at seven, and cleaned the shoes of the whole family. He said: 'When you are well combed and your shoes are clean, you can also put on a habit: the important thing is to always be tidy' '.

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What were the football matches like? 'They played mostly in the late afternoon, because middle school kids also arrived at that time. The teams were made with the two captains: 'It's your turn, who do you choose?'. The first to be called was always Paolo. The matches were played and the ball had to be kept low, otherwise it would remain on the trees and we had to go up and catch it. For us climbing trees was a very normal thing, today kids don't do it anymore, they don't know how to do it ».

The olive grove is full of trees. “We had to discard the olive trees too, of course. Paolo learned a lot like this. His feints were born here. Then we moved below, because there was a campino, but it was all disconnected. The farmer plowed every year. And then for two days we would put the earth back on and go to stamp with our feet to level the ground. As there were no trees, two stones were placed for the doors. That field was called the 'empty' ».

When you realized that Paolino was so strong, were you ever envious? 'Never. Indeed it was a pride for me to be his brother. Playing with it was truly a joy, a beauty ».

Paolo Rossi and those last dribbles in the backstage of the TV studio ... - video

What work did your dad and your mom do? “Father worked in factories, in various wool factories: warehouse worker, shipped the stuff, cut the pieces. At the beginning, the mother was in the company with her father in Prato, they met there. Then she always worked at home, was a seamstress, sewed clothes. She made do, there was not much money. Maybe we didn't go out for lunch or dinner. But they never made us lack for anything ».

Rossano and Paolo in Turin, in Juve. How did it go? “We have been in two different periods. We played in the Cattolica Virtus in Florence. The squad observers came to see us. Paolo was fourteen, I was sixteen. At that time, for Juve in Tuscany there was Luciano Moggi, who pointed out to us. He understood football. There are many auditions, usually the first half was enough, you score two or three goals, and they: 'Ok so'. They had already seen what it was made of. But my mom didn't want to send us to Turin. She seemed too distant and especially knowing my character - a bit homely - she was afraid that we would get lost. Her wish was to make us stay here and go play in Florence. Besides, we were Fiorentina fans ».

And instead? «Instead they make this negotiation, the leaders of Cattolica Virtus go to Turin. My father pointed to a disproportionate amount: 'You ask them for this amount ... Surely they say no and the boys stay at home'. After half an hour, a manager of the Cattolica calls him back: 'You know, Vittorio? They didn't even flinch, they said yes right away ”. And so, in spite of ourselves, we had to leave for Turin. I went first and Paolo stayed in Florence for another two years: there was a regional law that you could not leave Tuscany to play before the age of sixteen. Then we switched. I went home, because my father wanted me to study: in Turin I had gone badly at school and he would not accept that I would lose a year ».

At that point Paolo left. «And he started in Juve. It was a bad period because, from 16 to 18 years old, he underwent serious operations: three menisci removed him, two from one knee and one from the other. My parents would occasionally visit him with our green Prinz. Paolo was homesick. But he was very tenacious, determined and continued his career ».

Paolo exploded with Vicenza, then went to Argentina for the 1978 World Cup and finally landed in Perugia where he was overwhelmed by the football betting scandal. Did you talk to him about that story? “Paolo had an open character, he was really good and gave confidence to everyone. What he lost two years of his life for lasted two minutes. He was with Perugia in a hotel in Vietri sul Mare on retreat before a game with Avellino. A teammate of his calls him. He was playing bingo, he goes, greets these people, talks to us for two minutes, maybe less. They wanted to know about things and Paolo said: 'Talk to the coach, I don't even want to get involved in these events'. Then he went back to the table and continued playing. He scored in that game. He also got hurt. But those two accused him. Sports justice was not consistent with ordinary justice, because Paolo was acquitted, while sports justice - since he had to bring the evidence of non-involvement - did not believe his version ».

Everyone remembers Paolo's smile. Have you ever seen him cry? «When the football betting broke out, one day I went to Perugia and he let off steam. He felt that he did not have the strength to counter certain arguments, he did not know how to get out of them. And so, yes, then I saw him cry. The desperation of this boy, who was at the center of everyone's attention, who at the age of 24 feels guilty that is not his. The world collapsed on him ».

Then he became the national hero, with the 1982 World Cup. «We must remember the period from which it came. The whole family had suffered this backlash, especially my parents. They were of an incredible morality, they had really suffered a lot. In fact, when Paolo started again with Juve - the first time we were in Udine and it was a good party - he felt sick with emotion. From that moment on he never saw the matches live, he listened to them on the radio, recorded them and then reviewed them, alone. After the three goals with Brazil and the final victory everyone rediscovered Paolo, whom the media had mocked after the first games. For us he was always Paolino, but for the others, in a week, he had become Pablito ».

What happened in your home and in Saint Lucia during the days of the World Cup? «From the match against Brazil onwards it was a party, a chaos. All Prato has poured here, in Santa Lucia. There was blocked traffic, the fans wanted to come down here to see Paolo's house. They wanted to touch something, those who entered the garden, those who wanted to take the land, those who mounted garages, with the risk of the roof collapsing. In ninety minutes the world had changed. For him and for us ».

When did you know that Paolo couldn't make it? “He underwent several operations, it was an ordeal. Federica and her children assisted him with incredible love. But she felt that it was no longer him. Like when one fights to the end, and he understands that it is useless ».

Do you remember the last time you spoke to each other? “It was by phone. We met on video call. In those moments you don't even know what to say to a brother who is about to leave. I encouraged him and we said goodbye. I miss him so much but I know that his life has remained in everyone's memory. Like our childhood dreams. In bed, embrace each other ».