ITALIAN WORLD cup winner Paolo Rossi has sadly passed away at the age of 64.
Mr Rossi's wife, Frederica, broke the news with a post on Instagram last night, sharing a photograph of the two together with the words 'Per sempree' - Forever.
The Italian hero, whose long career spanned soaring highs and deep lows, helped bring Italy to victory in the 1982 World Cup-- after being banned for three years for taking part in a betting scandal.
He had always protested his innocence, and after being cleared and allowed to play he was a vital tool in Italy's eventual success in the 1982 World Cup, scoring three goals in the final two games, including the opener in Italy's 3-1 final win against West Germany.
Mr Rossi still holds the Italian record for the most goals scored in the World Cup, sharing the record with two others.
His passing comes two weeks after the death of fellow World Cup legend Diego Maradona, who helped win the 1986 World Cup for Argentina.
Fans and footballers have been paying tribute to the soccer star on social media as the news of his death spreads across the world.
Roberto Rojas, writing on Twitter, said "Paolo Rossi was also one of only three players to have won all three awards at a World Cup ...
"With Maradona also dead, it's been a huge loss for two icons of calcio."
Paolo Rossi was also one of only three players to have won all three awards at a World Cup (title, Golden Ball and Golden Boot)
He also capped off 1982 by winning the Ballon d'Or.
With Maradona also dead, it's been a huge loss for two icons of calcio. https://t.co/lYDuplFkqq pic.twitter.com/drfz8r7xTU
— Roberto Rojas (@RobertoRojas97) December 10, 2020
Sports commentator Glenn Davis said "This hits home with Paolo Rossi passing...
"The epic 3 goals he scored against Brazil in 3-2 knockout game win 82 World Cup are forever indelibly etched in my mind."
The cause of Mr Rossi's death has not been announced, however Italian media outlets are reporting the former footballer was suffering from an 'incurable disease'.