Thousands attend funeral of former Italy forward, Paolo Rossi

Marco Bertorello / AFP

Thousands of mourners gathered in the Italian city of Vicenza on Saturday for the funeral of former Italy forward Paolo Rossi, whose coffin was carried to the cathedral by his team mates from the 1982 World Cup-winning side.

Marco Tardelli, Antonio Cabrini, Giancarlo Antognoni, Alessandro Altobelli, Franco Causio, Fulvio Collovati and Giuseppe Bergomi were among the pallbearers. The event was shown live by state broadcaster Rai.

Rossi, who died on Thursday at the age of 64 after an illness, returned from a two-year ban from football to score six goals, including a hat-trick in an epic 3-2 win over Brazil, as he led Italy to their third world title.

"I have not only lost a team mate, but also a friend and a brother," said Cabrini, who provided the cross for Rossi to score the opening goal against Brazil.

"Together we fought, we won and we sometimes lost, always picking ourselves up even in the face of disappointment. We were part of a group, that group, our group. I didn't think he would leave so soon."

Before the funeral, Rossi's coffin was placed at the Stadio Romeo Menti in Vicenza where supporters could lay flowers and pay their respects.

Rossi was topscorer in Serie B as he led Vicenza to promotion in 1976-77 and was also the leading scorer in Serie A the following season.

"Over the last few days we have received incredible, moving expressions of affection. I hope that Paolo has seen all this affection," said Rossi's wife Federica Cappelletti.

"Paolo belonged to the people, to everyone, and it is right that he should be remembered for his greatness."

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