World Cup's 101 Most Memorable Moments: Paolo Rossi scores hat-trick vs. Brazil

By Doug McIntyreFOX Sports Soccer Writer

Editor's note: Each day between now and the kickoff of the first match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Nov. 20, we'll unveil a different memory from World Cup history. The countdown from 101 continues with Paolo Rossi's hat-trick vs. Brazil.

Paolo Rossi had barely played in two years. Banned for his involvement in the betting scandal that rocked Italian soccer in 1980, the forward returned to the field with club side Juventus with just three games left in the 1981-82 Serie A season.

That was enough for Azzurri manager Enzo Bearzot, who controversially included Rossi on his roster for the 1982 World Cup in Spain. It looked like a severe miscalculation at first. The striker went scoreless through Italy’s first three games, and Bearzot was under intense pressure to drop him from the starting lineup. 

That he didn’t succumb to it looks like a masterstroke now. While Rossi didn’t score as Italy first defeated defending champion Argentina, he exploded for three goals in the Azzurri’s fifth game, a 3-2 triumph over Brazil that sent his country to the final four. 

The seal broken, Rossi had both goals in the 2-0 semifinal victory over Poland in the semis before finding the target for the sixth time in three matches in the final, a 3-1 win over West Germany that gave the Italians their first title since 1938. Not only did Rossi take home the Golden Boot as the tournament’s goal leader, he also won the Golden Ball as MVP.

Paolo Rossi's hat trick

The late addition of Rossi to Italy's World Cup roster paid dividends for the Azzurri.

One of the leading soccer journalists in North America, Doug McIntyre has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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