Name: Roberto BAGGIO
Born: February 18th 1967, Caldogno, Italy
Height: 1,74 m 5tf 8 1/2in
Position: Second Striker
Magnificent right foot, with an extreme shot accuracy, that made him a big threat at free kicks; Dribble and pace, sublime technique and amazing ball control;
1994 – 2nd place – World Cup
1990 – 3rd place – World Cup
1995 and 1996 – Italian Serie A Winner (Juventus and AC Milan)
1993 – Uefa Cup Winner (Juventus);
He played almost 20 years at top Italian clubs which is remarkable, always with success, making goals and getting good results. He was involved in controversial transfers along his career, some of them surprise moves. He was surprisingly sold from Juventus to AC Milan on 1995, after winning the “Scudetto” and he won the next season national title with his new club AC Milan, however Juventus won the European Cup that season and he couldn´t put this precious title on his CV. He served his national team for more than a decade, playing in three World Cups, scoring and having good performances in all of them. Ironically he will be more remembered as the player who missed the decisive penalty against Brazil at 1994 World Cup final, and the amazing goal he scored against the Czechs on Italy 1990 or Bulgarians on USA 1994 will be on a second plan. But he must be seen in my opinion as the finest Italian football player from the 90s and the man that helped Juventus to come back to winning ways and his National Team to earn two World Cup podium finishes. He was the nuclear player of the teams, undoubtedly. He finished his career with Brescia, with big success and on a high note, on a form that he could still be called his beloved “squadra azzurra”, despite having more than 35 years.
I remember his name from Fiorentina squad during 1989-90 when he led them to a Uefa Cup final, but my first strong memory of him was when it was announced that he would join Juventus and there were riots by Fiorentina fan against him and I remember seeing that new on TV.
After that, during that summer, he gave me a great pleasure when I saw the Italy 2nd goal against Czechoslovakia. What a moment for a football fan, what a brilliant goal from a guy that was not a starting eleven player and he presented him to the world after that goal. He did some other good performances along the tournament but not enough to help Italy to reach the final, despite a good goal against England later.
After the tournament he focused on Juventus, his new team. When he arrived Juventus was on the shadow of AC Milan big successes and Sampdoria/Napoli arrival. With Gianluca Vialli he formed a lethal partnership and Juventus reached Uefa Cup title on 1993 and the Serie A on 1995 after 9 years without winning the “Scudetto”. Amazingly Juventus decided to sell him to AC Milan after that (my guess was that they would bet on a young rising star Alessandro Del Piero) and the 1995/96 was strange for Roberto Baggio, he won the Serie A with Milan but Juventus without him clinched the European Champions League!
But the climax of his career and my best memories from him came before this 1995 transfer when he did a terrific 1994 World Cup, becoming one of the tournament stars, scoring 5 goals, all on the elimination phase. Nigeria, Bulgaria and Spain were all downed by a brilliant Roberto Baggio that only failed in the final, missing unfairly the decisive shot and having to take the 2nd place. Football sometimes is defined in a moment and Baggio failed on the decisive one, losing the championship but earning a reputation of one of the finest players of the tournament.
He survived that and he came back to play the 1998 World Cup where I remember he coming from the bench against Chile, and by coincidence, Italy won a penalty and he like a brave man, went to take it and scored, cleaning in some part the image of the 1994 failure.
Last memories I have from him, were a really good Brescia performances and the public opinion pressuring Trapattoni to call him to the 2002 World Cup, with 35 years. It didn´t happen, but he left us all almost two decades of sweet football moments to enjoy.
“It’s better to have ten disorganized players than ten organized runners.”
“I have lost three World Cups, all on penalties … If you’ll allow me this, it really gets on my nerves.”