ROME - Enzo Bearzot, the coach who led
Italy to victory in the final of the 1982 World Cup against the
odds, has died at the age of 83.
"Goodbye 'old man', we will miss your wisdom," Serie A said
in a statement without giving a cause of death.
Tributes quickly poured in for one of Italian sport's most
respected figures, who worked his way up the Italian federation
pyramid to become coach of the national team despite never
having been a manager in the top-flight Serie A.
Paolo Rossi, whose six goals helped Italy to triumph in 1982
despite three draws in the first group stage, was tearful.
"Enzo Bearzot has been one of the greatest Italians of the
20th century, of this there is no doubt," Rossi, who returned
from a betting ban just in time for the tournament, told news
"For me he was like a father. I owe him everything, without
him I would not have done what I did. He was an incredibly
Given Rossi's troubled build-up to the finals and the three
opening draws, Italy's third of four World Cup triumphs looked
highly unlikely in Spain but they burst into life in the second
A 2-1 win over Argentina and 3-2 success against Brazil,
where Rossi scored a hat-trick, set the tone for the semi-final
victory over Poland and the memorable 3-1 triumph over West
Germany in the final.
Marco Tardelli's crazed celebration after scoring the second
goal in the final has gone down in World Cup folklore but the
photographs of Bearzot cradling the trophy also resonate with
"Bearzot knew how to represent and transmit the great values
of mankind and of sport," the Italian football federation
president Giancarlo Abete said in a statement.
Born in Aiello in north-eastern Italy in 1927, Bearzot
played centre-back for clubs such as Inter Milan and Torino and
picked up one Italy cap.
He later became coach of third-tier Prato but his club
management career ended there and he entered the Italian
federation system as an Italy under-23 coach before working his
way up to national boss.
Bearzot led the Azzurri to fourth spot in the 1978 World Cup
and Euro 1980, hosted by Italy, before his finest moment two
A last-16 defeat by France at the 1986 World Cup prompted
Bearzot's resignation and he never coached again, returning to
the federation in the last decade as a technical director.
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