Roberto Baggio

Roberto Baggio

Baggio in Tokyo, Japan in 2013
Personal information
Full name Roberto Baggio
Date of birth (1967-02-18) 18 February 1967
Place of birth Caldogno, Italy
Height 1.74 m (5 ft 8 12 in)
Playing position Forward
Attacking midfielder
Youth career
1974–1980 Caldogno
1980–1982 L.R. Vicenza
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1982–1985 L.R. Vicenza 36 (13)
1985–1990 Fiorentina 94 (39)
1990–1995 Juventus 141 (78)
1995–1997 Milan 51 (12)
1997–1998 Bologna 30 (22)
1998–2000 Internazionale 41 (9)
2000–2004 Brescia 95 (45)
Total 488 (218)
National team
1984 Italy U16[1] 4 (3)
1988–2004 Italy 56 (27)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Roberto Baggio (Italian pronunciation: [roˈbɛrto ˈbaddʒo]; born 18 February 1967) is an Italian former professional footballer who mainly played as a second striker, or as an attacking midfielder.[2] He is the former President of the technical sector of the Italian Football Federation. A technically gifted, creative playmaker and a set piece specialist renowned for his curling free kicks and goalscoring, Baggio is regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11] In 1999 he came fourth in the FIFA Player of the Century internet poll, and was chosen on the FIFA World Cup Dream Team in 2002.[12][13] In 1993, he was named FIFA World Player of the Year and won the Ballon d'Or. In 2004, he was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100, a list of the world's greatest living players.[14]

Baggio played for Italy in 56 matches, scoring 27 goals, and is the fourth highest goalscorer for his national team. He starred in the Italian team that finished third in the 1990 FIFA World Cup, scoring twice. At the 1994 FIFA World Cup he led Italy to the final, scoring five goals, received the World Cup Silver Ball and was named in the World Cup All-Star Team. Although he was the star performer for Italy at the tournament, he is largely remembered for missing the decisive penalty in the shootout of the Final against Brazil.[4] At the 1998 FIFA World Cup he scored twice, before Italy were eliminated to eventual champions France in the quarter-finals. Baggio is the only Italian to score in three World Cups, and with nine goals holds the record for most goals scored in World Cup tournaments for Italy, along with Paolo Rossi and Christian Vieri.[15]

In 2002, he became the first Italian player in over 50 years to score more than 300 career goals; he is currently the fourth-highest scoring Italian in all competitions with 318 goals. In 2004, during the final season of his career, Baggio became the first player in over 30 years to score 200 goals in Serie A, and is currently the seventh highest goalscorer of all time in Serie A, with 205 goals.[16] In 1990, he moved from Fiorentina to Juventus for a world record transfer fee.[17] Baggio has won two Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia and a UEFA Cup, playing for seven different Italian clubs during his career: Vicenza, Fiorentina, Juventus, Milan, Bologna, Internazionale, and Brescia.

Baggio is known as Il Divin Codino (The Divine Ponytail), for the hairstyle he wore for most of his career, for his talent, and for his Buddhist beliefs.[18] In 2002, Baggio was nominated Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. In 2003, he was the inaugural winner of the "Golden Foot" award. In recognition of his human rights activism, he received the Man of Peace award from the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in 2010. He was inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

Early life

Roberto Baggio was born in Caldogno, Veneto, son of Matilde and Fiorindo Baggio, the sixth of eight siblings. His younger brother, Eddy Baggio, was also a footballer who played 86 games in Serie B.[19]

Club career

1982–1985: Vicenza

Roberto Baggio on his debut with Lanerossi Vicenza

Baggio began his youth career after being noticed by his hometown youth team, Caldogno, at the age of 9. By the time he had turned 11, he had scored 45 goals and provided 20 assists in 26 matches, also scoring six goals in one match. His talent was recognised by scout Antonio Mora, and he was acquired by the Vicenza youth team at the age of 13 for £300. After scoring 110 goals in 120 matches, Baggio began his professional career with the Vicenza senior side in 1983, at age 15.[20]

Baggio made his Serie C debut with Vicenza on 5 June 1983, against Piacenza, and he scored his first career goal in Serie C during the following season, on 3 June 1984, against Brescia, the club with which he retired in 2004.[21] Baggio scored his first goal in the Coppa Italia Serie C in a 4–1 away win over Legnano on 30 November 1983.[21] He also made his Coppa Italia debut with the club on 31 August 1983, against Palermo, and he scored his first Coppa Italia goal in a 4–2 away loss to Empoli, on 26 August 1984.[21] During the 1984–85 Serie C1 season, he scored 12 goals, helping the club to gain promotion to Serie B. Baggio began to draw the attention of larger clubs, in particular Fiorentina, and his playing style was compared to that of his idol, Zico.[20] Baggio was also awarded the Guerin d'Oro in 1985 as the Best Player in Serie C.[22]

During the end of his final season at Vicenza, Baggio shattered both the anterior cruciate ligament and the meniscus of his right knee whilst playing against Rimini on 5 May 1985, whilst attempting a slide tackle; the injury occurred two days before his official transfer deal to Fiorentina had been finalised, and it seriously threatened his career, at the age of 18. Although several team doctors feared he would not play again, Fiorentina retained their faith in him, agreeing to commit to the transfer, and fund the required surgery, one of many reasons for Baggio's attachment to the club.[20][23]

1985–1990: Fiorentina

Fiorentina purchased Baggio in 1985, for £1.5 million, and during his time at the club, despite initial injuries, he became extremely popular, and is regarded as one of the club's best ever players.[24] In his first season with the club, Fiorentina finished in fifth place, and reached the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia, with Baggio making his club debut in the competition. He made his Serie A debut on 21 September 1986 against Sampdoria,[25] and he also made his European debut that season on 17 September 1986, in an UEFA Cup match against Boavista.[26] Baggio suffered another knee injury on 28 September, and he was operated again, requiring 220 stitches to have it rebuilt, losing 12 kg as a result, and missing most of the season.[18] Baggio returned, and scored his first league goal from a free kick on 10 May 1987, in a 1–1 draw against the eventual Serie A champions, Maradona's Napoli; Baggio's equaliser saved Fiorentina from relegation.[25]

"The angels sing in his legs"

— Former Fiorentina manager Aldo Agroppi on Baggio.[27]

Baggio led Fiorentina to a Coppa Italia quarter-final during the 1988–89 season under manager Sven-Göran Eriksson, scoring 9 goals, as Fiorentina were knocked out by the eventual champions Sampdoria.[28] This season would be Baggio's breakthrough, as he scored 15 goals in Serie A, finishing third in the capocannoniere title; he also helped Fiorentina to finish in seventh place and win an UEFA Cup spot, assisting a goal in the tie-break qualifier against Roma.[29] He formed a notable attacking partnership with Stefano Borgonovo, and the pair scored 29 of Fiorentina's 44 Serie A goals, earning the nickname "B2".[30] Baggio's performances elevated him to hero status among the fans, and he drew praise from several pundits. His characteristics led former Fiorentina playmaker, Miguel Montuori, to state that Baggio was: "…more productive than Maradona; he is without doubt the best number 10 in the league", also stating that Baggio had "ice in his veins", due to his composure in front of goal.[20]

Although Fiorentina were struggling against relegation during the 1989–90 season, Baggio led the club to the 1990 UEFA Cup Final, only to be defeated by his future club, Juventus.[11] Baggio scored one goal in 12 appearances in the competition, in a round of 16 1–0 home win against Dinamo Kiev, from a penalty, on 22 November 1989; this was his first goal in European competitions.[31] He also scored the decisive penalty in the first round shootout against Atlético Madrid.[32] With 17 goals, Baggio was the second highest goalscorer in the 1989–90 Serie A season after Marco van Basten, and was awarded the Bravo Award as the best Under-23 player in European competitions;[33] he also placed eighth in the 1990 Ballon d'Or.[34] With Fiorentina, Baggio scored 55 goals in 136 appearances, 39 of which were in Serie A, in 94 appearances.[22]

1990–1995: Juventus

"One game stands out in particular, one against Ancona which we won 5–1. Baggio scored four goals in the first 20 minutes and killed the game off. I don't think I've seen a better performance from any player in any game I've ever played in. For half an hour, he was on fire. As footballers go, he's a genius"

— Former Juventus teammate David Platt on Baggio, 1995.[35]

In 1990, Baggio was sold to one of Fiorentina's rivals, Juventus, for £8 million, the world record transfer for a footballer at the time.[17] He inherited the number 10 shirt, formerly worn by Michel Platini. Following the transfer, there were riots on the streets of Florence, where fifty people were injured.[36] Baggio replied to his fans, saying: "I was compelled to accept the transfer".

Baggio, as a Juventus player, collects a purple scarf in his first match in Florence against his former team, Fiorentina, in April 1991

When Juventus played Fiorentina on 7 April 1991, Baggio refused to take a penalty, stating that Fiorentina's goalkeeper knew him too well. Baggio's replacement missed the penalty, and Juventus lost the match. When Baggio was substituted, he picked up a Fiorentina scarf thrown onto the field, a gesture which, although appreciated by his former club's fans, caused outrage amongst the Juventus supporters, who were initially reluctant to accept Baggio. He claimed: "Deep in my heart I am always purple", the colour of Fiorentina.[37]

Baggio in the 1990–91 season, his first during his tenure with Juventus

In this first season at Juventus, he scored 14 goals and provided 12 assists in Serie A, often playing behind the forwards under Luigi Maifredi, although Juventus finished in seventh place, out of possible European Qualifying spots. Juventus did reach the semi-finals of the European Cup Winner's Cup, however, a tournament in which Baggio was top scorer, with 9 goals, bringing his seasonal total to 27 goals; Juventus were eliminated by Cruyff's Barcelona "Dream Team". Juventus were also eliminated in the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia to eventual winners Roma, with Baggio scoring 3 goals. Juventus also lost the Supercoppa Italiana against Napoli at the beginning of the season; Baggio scored Juventus's only goal from a free kick.[38] Baggio made his 100th Serie A appearance in a 0–0 draw against Lazio on 21 October 1990.[21]

In his second season, under new manager Giovanni Trapattoni, Baggio finished runner-up to Van Basten for the Serie A top scorer title, scoring 18 goals and providing 8 assists, as Juventus finished runners-up to Fabio Capello's Milan in Serie A, and to Parma in the Coppa Italia Final, in which Baggio scored in the first leg from a penalty. It was during his second season with the club that Baggio came to be accepted by the Juventus fans, as he was seen as a leader around whom the club's play revolved.[39] Trapattoni deployed Baggio in a more advanced role, however,[39] which led to minor disagreements between the player, his coach,[40][41] and the Juventus management.[42]

Baggio was appointed team captain for the 1992–93 season; he had a dominant year, winning the only European club trophy of his career, by helping Juventus to the UEFA Cup final, in which he scored twice and assisted another goal over both legs, defeating Borussia Dortmund 6–1 on aggregate.[43] En route to the final, Baggio scored two goals in the 2–1 home victory against Paris Saint-Germain, in the first leg of the semi-final, and he went on to score the only goal in the return leg.[44][45] Juventus also reached the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia, losing on away goals to local rivals and winners Torino. Juventus finished fourth in Serie A that season, although they managed a 3–1 away win against the Serie A Champions, Milan, with Baggio scoring a memorable individual goal, while also setting up Andreas Möller's first goal of the match.[46] One of the highlights of the season involved Baggio scoring four goals in open play against Udinese, in a 5–0 Juventus home win.[47] Baggio was once again runner-up for the Serie A Capocannoniere title, with 21 goals and 6 assists. He scored a personal best 30 goals in all club competitions that season, in addition to 5 goals with the Italian national side. During the 1993 calendar year, Baggio managed a personal record 39 goals across all competitions, scoring 23 goals in Serie A, 3 in the Coppa Italia, 8 goals in European competitions, and 5 goals for Italy, helping his national side qualify for the World Cup.[48] Baggio's performances throughout the year earned him both the European Footballer of the Year, with 142 points from a possible 150,[49] and the FIFA World Player of the Year awards;[3] he was also awarded the Onze d'Or,[50] and the World Soccer Player of the Year Award.[51]

In the 1993–94 season, Baggio often played as a second striker alongside Gianluca Vialli or Fabrizio Ravanelli, and occasionally the young Alessandro Del Piero;[52][53] Juventus once again finished runners up to Milan in Serie A, and Baggio finished third in the Capocannoniere title with 17 goals and 8 assists, whilst the club suffered a quarter-final elimination in the UEFA Cup against Cagliari. On 31 October 1993, Baggio scored a hat-trick in a 4–0 win over Genoa, which included his 100th Serie A goal.[21] He made his 200th Serie A appearance on 5 December 1993 in a 1–0 win over Napoli.[21] After sustaining an injury earlier that season, Baggio was operated on his meniscus in March 1994.[54] Baggio placed second in the 1994 Ballon d'Or,[55] third in the 1994 FIFA World Player of the Year,[3] and was awarded the 1994 Onze de Bronze.[50]

In the 1994–95 season, Trapattoni's replacement, Marcello Lippi, wanted to create a more cohesive team, less dependent on Baggio,[56] who was deployed as an outside forward in a 4–3–3 formation.[57] Baggio was injured for most of the season, however, being ruled out for five months after sustaining a knee injury against Padova on 27 November 1994. After scoring from a free-kick, he was substituted by Del Piero, who temporarily took his place in the team.[58] Baggio returned to the starting line-up in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final against Lazio, in Rome, on 8 March 1995, setting up Ravanelli's winner.[59] On his first Serie A match back from injury, on 12 March 1995, Baggio scored Juventus's second goal in a 2–0 win over Foggia, and set up Ravanelli's goal.[60] Due to his injury, Baggio only managed 17 Serie A appearances, but still contributed to the his first Scudetto with Juventus by notching 8 assists and 8 goals.[61][62] He provided assists for three of the goals in the title-deciding match against Parma, which Juventus won 4–0 in Turin on 21 May 1995.[63] He helped Juventus win the Coppa Italia that year, notching 2 goals and 2 assists, scoring the winning goal in the second leg of the semi-final.[64] He helped lead Juventus to another UEFA Cup final, scoring 4 goals, including two goals and an assist over both legs of the semi-finals against Borussia Dortmund.[65][66][67] Despite Baggio's strong performance, Juventus were defeated in the UEFA Cup final, by Parma.[68]

Baggio scored 115 goals in 200 appearances during his five seasons at Juventus; 78 were scored in Serie A in 141 appearances.[3][69] In 1995, Baggio was nominated for the Ballon d'Or and placed fifth in the 1995 FIFA World Player of the Year Award; he was also awarded the 1995 Onze d'Argent Award, behind George Weah. Baggio is currently Juventus's ninth highest goal-scorer in all competitions, and is the joint tenth highest goal-scorer for Juventus in Serie A, alongside Pietro Anastasi. He is the sixth best Juventus goal-scorer in the Coppa Italia with 14 goals, and the joint fourth all-time Juventus goalscorer in European and International competitions, with 22 goals, alongside Anastasi. In 2010, he was named one of the club's 50 greatest legends.[70]

1995–1997: Milan

"Baggio on the bench? It's something that I will never understand in my lifetime."

Zinedine Zidane.[56]

In 1995, Lippi, Bettega and Umberto Agnelli stated that Baggio no longer featured in their plans at Juventus and decided to focus on the emerging Italian star Del Piero, who would inherit Baggio's number 10 shirt.[62][71][72] Baggio faced difficulties with Umberto Agnelli, Luciano Moggi, and the Juventus management during his final season, as they stated that they would only renew his contract if he reduced his salary by 50%.[73][74] After strong pressure from Milan chairman Silvio Berlusconi and manager Capello, he was sold to the Milanese club for £6.8 million, amidst several protests from the Juventus fans.[74][75][76] At the time, he had been linked with Inter,[77] Real Madrid, and Premier League clubs Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers.[78]

Although Baggio initially struggled with injuries at the beginning of his first season,[79][80] he came back into the starting line-up and was appointed the main penalty taker.[61] He helped Milan win the Serie A title, notably scoring a goal against his former team, Fiorentina, from a penalty, in the title deciding match.[81] Baggio finished the season with 10 goals in all competitions, in 34 appearances; 7 of his goals were scored in Serie A, in 28 appearances, and he also provided 10 assists in Serie A. He became one of the six players to win the Scudetto in consecutive years with different teams,[82] and was voted the club's best player of the season by the fans, despite playing a more creative role.[61] Towards the end of the season, Baggio had disagreements with Capello due to limited playing time, as Capello believed that he was no longer fit enough to play for 90 minutes; although Baggio frequently started matches, he was often substituted during the second half.[62]

During the following season, under Milan's new manager Óscar Tabárez, Baggio was initially started in his preferred role behind George Weah, and on occasion, as a left winger, or as a midfielder playmaker.[83] After a series of disappointing results, however, Baggio was relegated to the bench,[84] and Milan's former coach, Arrigo Sacchi, was called in as a replacement, the former Italy manager with whom Baggio had argued following the 1994 World Cup.[62][85] Although their relationship initially improved,[86] Sacchi gave Baggio limited playing time, and he soon fell out of form, along with the rest of the squad, which caused their relationship to deteriorate again.[87] Milan failed to retain their league title, finishing a disappointing eleventh place, and they were knocked out once again in the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia.[88] Baggio made his Champions League debut in the 1996–97 season, scoring his first goal in the competition,[89] although Milan were eliminated in the group stage;[90] Milan also lost the 1996 Supercoppa Italiana to Fiorentina, as Baggio was left on the bench.[91] During his time at Milan, Baggio scored 19 goals in 67 appearances in all competitions; 12 of his goals were scored in Serie A, in 51 appearances, 3 were scored in the Coppa Italia in 6 appearances, and 4 were scored in European competitions, in 10 appearances.[22]

1997–1998: Bologna

In 1997, Capello returned to Milan, and stated that Baggio was no longer a part of his plans.[92] Baggio chose to move to Parma, but the manager at the time, Carlo Ancelotti, impeded the transfer, as he did not feel that Baggio would fit into his tactical plans.[93] Ancelotti would later state that he regretted this decision, stating that in his naivety, he believed that the 4–4–2 formation was the ideal formation for success, and he felt that at the time, creative players such as Gianfranco Zola and Baggio were not compatible with this system.[94]

Baggio subsequently transferred to Bologna, aiming to save the squad from relegation, and earn a place at the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Baggio refound his form with the club and had a dominant season, scoring a personal best of 22 goals in Serie A, as well as providing 6 assists, leading Bologna to an eighth-place finish, allowing them to qualify for the UEFA Intertoto Cup. Baggio was the highest scoring Italian in Serie A that season, and the third highest goalscorer in Serie A; his performances earned him a place in Italy's 1998 World Cup squad. Baggio also led Bologna to the Round of 16 in the Coppa Italia, scoring 1 goal in three appearances. Although he rose to hero status amongst the fans,[95] he had difficulties with his manager Renzo Ulivieri, in particular when he was left off the starting 11 against Juventus.[96] Ulivieri later denied ever having any difficulties with Baggio.[97] At the beginning of the season, Baggio cut off his iconic ponytail, signifying his rebirth.[88] Baggio was named as Bologna's captain for part of the season, before handing the armband to Giancarlo Marocchi.[37] Baggio made his 300th Serie A appearance whilst at Bologna, in a 0–0 draw against Empoli on 11 January 1998.[21] Baggio received nominations for both the Ballon d'Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year due to his performances for Bologna and Italy that season; he was also nominated for the 1998 Serie A Italian Footballer of the Year and Serie A Footballer of the Year awards, losing out to Del Piero and Ronaldo, respectively.[98][99]

1998–2000: Inter

After the 1998 World Cup, Baggio signed with his favourite childhood club Internazionale, in order to compete in the Champion's League.[25] This proved to be an unfortunate move, as after injuries, disappointing results, and several managerial changes throughout the season (including Luigi Simoni, Mircea Lucescu and Roy Hodgson), Baggio struggled to gain playing time,[25][37][100] and was used out of position as a winger.[101] Baggio scored 5 goals and provided 10 assists in 23 appearances during the 1998–99 season, as Inter finished in eighth place, missing out on a European spot.[102] He helped Inter to a Coppa Italia semi-final, losing out to eventual winners Parma.[103] Baggio scored a goal against his former club Bologna in a European Play-off match, but Inter lost both matches, failing to qualify for the UEFA Cup.[104] Baggio scored 4 goals in the 1998–99 UEFA Champions League, and he helped lead Inter through the qualifying rounds to the quarter-finals, in which they were eliminated by eventual winners Manchester United,[105] also scoring a memorable brace against defending champions Real Madrid in the group stage.[61][106]

In the 1999–2000 season, Baggio's former Juventus manager, Lippi, was appointed as Inter's new coach. Lippi did not favour Baggio, and left him out of the squad for most of the season, stating that Baggio was out of shape. In his autobiography, Baggio stated that Lippi had dumped him after Baggio refused to point out which of Inter's players had expressed negative opinions about the coach, also highlighting an incident during a training session, where he called out Christian Vieri and Christian Panucci for applauding Baggio for a notable assist.[20][25][37][61][88][100]

Baggio was used scarcely, and often as a substitute, scoring only 4 goals in 18 appearances during the regular Serie A season. He made 5 appearances in the Coppa Italia, with his only goal coming against local rivals Milan in the second leg of the quarter-finals, as he helped Inter reach the final,[25][107] only to be defeated by Lazio.[108] Despite his limited playing time, Baggio still managed several important goals to help Inter to a fourth-place finish, alongside Parma, such as his match winning goal against Verona, which he scored after coming off the bench, after being excluded from the team since 18 December 1999. Baggio had also previously helped to set up Inter's equaliser during the match. This was the first time Baggio had scored for Inter since his goal on 27 May of the previous season, and in the post-match the interview, he denied accusations made by Lippi in regard to his personal form.[109]

Baggio's last important contribution to Inter was scoring two memorable goals against Parma in the play-off match for the last remaining UEFA Champions League place, which Inter won 3–1;[110] Lippi had been forced to field Baggio due to several injuries. Baggio was given a perfect 10 rating from the Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, who described his performance as "absolutely perfect all game".[111] This game is considered an example of professionalism shown by Baggio, as Inter's president Massimo Moratti had stated that Lippi would only stay on if the team qualified for the Champions League.[37][88][112]

2000–2004: Brescia

"Roberto Baggio was the best Italian fantasista; he was better than Meazza and Boniperti, and he was amongst the greatest of all time, right behind Maradona, Pelé, and maybe Cruyff. Without the injury problems and the difficulties with his knees, he would have been the very best player in history."

Carlo Mazzone.[113]

After two years with Inter, Baggio decided not to renew his expiring contract, due to his conflicts with Lippi, making him a free agent at the age of 33.[25] He was linked with smaller Serie A clubs such as Napoli and Reggina,[114] and also several Premier League and La Liga clubs, including Barcelona.[114] Baggio ultimately transferred to Serie A newcomers Brescia, under coach Carlo Mazzone, aiming to save them from relegation, and staying in Italy in order to have a greater opportunity of being called up for the 2002 FIFA World Cup.[115] He was made captain and was given the number 10 jersey,[116] playing as an attacking-midfielder.[117]

Despite injury problems during the first half of the season, he re-found his form, and managed 10 goals and 10 assists in the 2000–01 season.[25][118] Brescia finished in a joint seventh place (their best Serie A finish since the league's re-establishment in 1946) and qualified for the Intertoto Cup, also reaching the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia, losing out to eventual winners Fiorentina.[119] Baggio helped Brescia to the final of the 2001 UEFA Intertoto Cup, where they were defeated by Paris Saint-Germain on away goals. Baggio scored one goal in the tournament, in the final from a penalty.[120] His performances earned him a nomination for the 2001 Ballon d'Or, and he finished 25th overall in the rankings.[121] Baggio was one of the best offensive playmakers in the league,[122] winning the Guerin d'oro Award in 2001, awarded by the Italian sports magazine il Guerin Sportivo, to the player with the highest average rating throughout the season, with 19 appearances or more.[123]

At the start of 2001–02 season, he scored eight goals in the first nine games, leading him to the top of the Serie A goalscoring table.[61] On his eighth league appearance of the season against Piacenza, Baggio scored a goal, and later suffered an injury.[124] A week later, against Venezia, he scored from a penalty, but he endured a more serious injury, following a hard challenge, which caused him to tear the anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee, keeping him out for four months.[125] He suffered a second serious injury that season, tearing the meniscus in his left knee, after returning to the team, and coming off the bench, in the Coppa Italia semi-final against Parma, on 31 January 2002.[126] He was operated on 4 February 2002, and he returned three games before the end of the season, making a recovery in 76 days.[127] On 21 April 2002, in the first game after his comeback, Baggio came on as a substitute to score two goals against Fiorentina, helping Brescia to win the match.[127] He scored again against Bologna, saving Brescia from relegation on the final matchday, and bringing his seasonal tally to 11 goals in 12 Serie A matches.[128] Despite Baggio's performances, Italy's coach, Trapattoni, did not deem him fully fit, and left him out of the final squad for the 2002 World Cup.[129] Trapattoni also expressed concern about bringing Baggio to the World Cup due to the presence of Francesco Totti and Del Piero in his role, believing that this could create a rivalry between the players.[130] After missing out on the tournament, Baggio reversed his initial decision to retire after the World Cup, expressing his intention to beat the 200 Serie A goal mark.[131]

Baggio maintained a high level of performance under new coach Gianni De Biasi;[118] he managed 12 goals and 9 assists during the 2002–03 season, helping Brescia to an eighth-place finish and another UEFA Intertoto Cup spot. He scored his 300th career goal from a penalty on 15 December 2002, in Brescia's 3–1 home victory over Perugia, also setting up one of Tare's goals.[25][132] He was the first player in over 50 years to reach this milestone, and with 318 goals, he is the fourth highest scoring Italian player in all competitions, behind only Silvio Piola, Del Piero, and Giuseppe Meazza.

In the 2003–04 season, the final season of his career, Baggio recorded 12 goals and 11 assists. He scored his 200th goal in Serie A in a 2–2 draw against Parma, on 14 March 2004,[133] saving Brescia from relegation, as they finished the season in 11th place.[133] Baggio was the first player in almost 30 years to surpass the 200-goal milestone, and is currently only one of seven players to have accomplished the feat. Baggio scored his final and 205th Serie A career goal on the second last match-day, in a 2–1 home win over Coppa Italia winners Lazio on 9 May 2004; he also set up Brescia's first goal.[134] He played his last career game on 16 May 2004 on the final match-day of the season at the San Siro against Milan[135] in a 4–2 loss to the Serie A champions, setting up Matuzalém's goal. In the 88th minute, De Biasi substituted Baggio; the 80,000 present at the San Siro gave him a standing ovation, and Paolo Maldini embraced him before he left the pitch.[25]

With Brescia, Baggio scored 46 goals in 101 appearances in all competitions, scoring 45 goals in 95 Serie A appearances, and 1 goal in 2 European matches; Baggio also made 4 Coppa Italia appearances with Brescia. Baggio retired as Brescia's all-time leading goalscorer in Serie A. He ended his career with 205 goals in Serie A, making him the seventh-highest scorer of all time, behind Piola, Totti (who overtook him in 2011), Gunnar Nordahl, Meazza, José Altafini, and Antonio Di Natale (who overtook him in 2015). Baggio's number 10 jersey was retired by Brescia in his honour, and he is considered the club's greatest ever player.[136] Before Baggio had joined Brescia, they had never been able to avoid relegation after being newly promoted to Serie A, in over 40 years. During the four years under Baggio, Brescia recorded their best ever Serie A run, and were never relegated.[137]

International career

Baggio with Italy in 1990

Baggio totalled 27 goals in 56 caps for his national team, making him Italy's fourth-highest all-time goalscorer, tied with Del Piero, who managed the tally in 91 appearances.[138] He was called up for one Italy Under-21 match in 1987 under Cesare Maldini, although he was an unused substitute, strangely failing to make an appearance for the azzurrini. His first senior International call-up was given to him by manager Azeglio Vicini, and he made his first appearance for Italy on 16 November 1988, at the age of 21, in a 1–0 friendly victory over the Netherlands, assisting Vialli's match-winning goal.[139][140] He scored his first goal for Italy on 22 April 1989, from a free kick in a 1–1 draw against Uruguay in an International friendly in Verona.[3]

Baggio made his first and only starting appearance as Italy's captain in the 1994 FIFA World Cup qualification match in Glasgow, against Scotland, on 18 November 1992;[141][142] he was taken off in the final minutes of the 0–0 draw due to stustaining an injured rib.[143][144] He is the only Italian player ever to score in three World Cups, with a total of 9 career World Cup goals, which puts him even with Christian Vieri and Paolo Rossi as Italy's top World Cup scorers.[15][145]

Despite his performances for Italy in the 1990, 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cups, he never played for Italy in a UEFA European Championship, and is currently the Italian player with the most caps to never have played in a European Championship. Baggio was not called up often for the Euro 1992 Qualification matches, only making 3 appearances and scoring 2 goals, as Italy failed to qualify for the tournament, finishing second in their qualifying group behind the Soviet Union.[146]

After the 1994 World Cup, Sacchi and Baggio infamously fell out. Their relationship deteriorated in September 1994, following a 1–1 draw against Slovenia in a Euro 1996 Qualifying match, where Baggio was benched.[147] After a 2–1 defeat to Croatia in a Euro 96 Qualifying match in November, their relationship hit the breaking point, and Baggio, supported by his teammates,[148] asked for the manager's dismissal.[149] Due to his disagreements with Sacchi, Baggio was called up to the national team less frequently, only making one more substitute appearance in a 1–0 home win against Slovenia in a Euro 96 Qualifier in September 1995; he eventually lost his spot in the squad, missing out on Italy's Euro 1996 roster, despite winning the Scudetto with Milan. Sacchi justified his decision by stating that Baggio was not fully fit,[150] and that Enrico Chiesa helped the team more when possession was lost.[151] Italy were eliminated in the group stage of the competition. Baggio was also excluded from Maldini's Italian Olympic Squad in 1996.[152]

Baggio is mainly remembered for his performances for Italy at the 1994 FIFA World Cup. After leading Italy to the final, scoring 5 goals in the process, he infamously missed the deciding penalty in the final shootout, which led to Italy losing the trophy to Brazil.[3]

1990 FIFA World Cup

"Baggio. Oh yes, oh yes…oh yes! What a goal by Baggio! That's the goal they’ve all been waiting for!"

— ITV Commentator Alan Parry's reaction to Baggio's goal in Italy's group stage match against Czechoslovakia, during the 1990 World Cup.[20]

Baggio was called up for his first World Cup tournament in 1990, on home soil. Baggio was often used as a substitute, appearing in five matches, but only starting in four of them, as Italy's manager Vicini preferred the more experienced Vialli.[153]

Baggio was still able to display his ability throughout the tournament, and Vicini's decision not to use him more frequently was later criticised,[154] as Baggio's creative combinations with Schillaci were praised.[155] Baggio scored twice during the tournament, including the "goal of the tournament" in a 2–0 win in his first competitive international fixture, in Italy's final group match against Czechoslovakia. The goal, which drew comparisons with Meazza, involved an exchange with Giannini on the left wing, followed by a dribbling run from midfield, in which Baggio beat several players, wrong footing the last defender with a feint, before putting the ball past the goalkeeper.[156] This goal was later recognised as the seventh best goal in World Cup history in a FIFA poll.[157]

In the round of 16 match against Uruguay, which Italy won 2–0, Baggio started the play which led to Italy's first goal, scored by Schillaci; he also scored a goal from a direct free-kick, but it was disallowed, as the referee had awarded an indirect free-kick.[158] Baggio also had a goal incorrectly ruled offside in the quarter-final against Ireland, which Italy won 1–0; he was once again involved in the build-up which led to Schillaci's match winning goal.[159] Italy were eliminated on penalties against defending champions Argentina in the semi-finals after a 1–1 draw, although Baggio was able to net his penalty in the shootout.[25] Baggio had come off the bench in the second half for Giannini, and came close to winning the match with a free kick, but it was saved by Sergio Goycochea.[160]

In the bronze medal match against England, Baggio returned to the starting line-up, playing behind Schillaci. He scored Italy's first goal of the match after stealing the ball from Peter Shilton. Platt momentarily equalised, but with five minutes left on the clock, Baggio set up Schillaci, who was fouled inside the area by Parker. Although Baggio was the regularly designated penalty taker for his national team, he stepped aside to allow Schillaci to score and capture the Golden Shoe, a gesture which was praised by the Italian media.[161][162] Baggio assisted a goal by Berti in the dying minutes of the match, but it was incorrectly ruled offside.[161] Italy won the match 2–1, capturing the third place medal.[3]

1994 FIFA World Cup

Baggio was Italy's top scorer during their qualifying campaign for the 1994 World Cup, scoring five goals. He helped Italy top their group and qualify for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, notably helping to set up Dino Baggio's winner in the decisive final group match against Portugal.[163][164] One of his best performances during the qualifying campaign occurred on 14 October 1992 against Switzerland; Italy were trailing 2–0 at home and Baggio led his team to a 2–2 draw comeback, scoring a goal.[165]

Baggio was expected to be one of the stars of the 1994 World Cup, and after a disappointing start, he led his team to the final with three match winning performances in the knockout rounds.[166][167] In a disappointing first match against Ireland at Giants Stadium, New Jersey, Italy were defeated 1–0.[168][169] In the second match against Norway, he appeared more inspired. However, Italy goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca was sent off for handling the ball outside the area. Luca Marchegiani was brought in to replace him, and Arrigo Sacchi decided to take off Baggio, in what produced an outcry amidst the fans. Baggio later stated that Sacchi was "crazy."[25] Italy won the match 1–0.[170] Italy continued to disappoint, as their final group match ended in a 1–1 draw against Mexico, and he again failed to influence the result.[171] The Italians finished third in their group, drawing much criticism from the press; Gianni Agnelli famously called Baggio "un coniglio bagnato" (a wet rabbit), referring to his despondent demeanour, hoping the jab would spur him on to score.[172]

After under-performing during the group stage, Baggio refound his form in the knockout stages, where he scored five memorable goals. He scored two in the round of 16, helping a ten-man Italy defeat Nigeria 2–1 at the Foxboro Stadium in Boston, after trailing for most of the match. He scored his first goal of the match with 2 minutes left on the clock, after receiving ball at the edge of the area from Mussi; he then went on to score the winning goal from a penalty in extra time, after setting up Antonio Benarrivo with a lobbed pass, who was then fouled in the area.[173][174]

He scored another match-winning goal in the quarter-finals to defeat Spain 2–1 with 3 minutes remaining. After receiving the ball from Signori, he dribbled past the Spanish goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta, scoring off-balance from a tight angle. He was also involved in the build-up which led to Italy's first goal by Dino Baggio.[175][176]

Baggio gave a man of the match performance in the semi-finals; he scored two more goals to beat Bulgaria 2–1 at Giants Stadium, leading Italy to the World Cup final for the first time in 12 years. He scored his first goal after beating two players and curling the ball from outside the area into the bottom-right corner. His second was scored with a half volley from a tight angle, assisted by Demetrio Albertini with a lobbed ball.[177][178]

"I knew what I had to do and my concentration was perfect. But I was so tired that I tried to hit the ball too hard."

—Baggio on his physical and mental state before taking the penalty in the final.[3]

Baggio was not fully fit for the final against Brazil at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, after pulling his hamstring during the semi-final and playing with the aid of a painkiller injection.[3][179][180] Despite being far less dominant than in previous matches, he still tested Brazilian goalkeeper Claudio Taffarel, and was able to set up a few chances for his teammates. The match ended 0–0 after extra time; he took Italy's last penalty in the resulting shootout, but his kick went over the cross-bar and the Brazilians won the title in one of the most upsetting moments in World Cup history.[181][182]

Baggio has described the miss as the worst moment of his career, stating that it affected him for years.[183] He later reflected, "Penalties are only missed by those who have the courage to take them."[184] Before him, two other Italians, Franco Baresi and Daniele Massaro, had already missed penalties.[185] Having led Italy to the final, Baggio received the Silver Ball as the second best player of the tournament, behind Romário, and the Silver Boot having finished tied for second in goals scored. He was also named in the World Cup All-Star Team. Baggio finished runner-up for the Ballon d'Or, with 136 points from a possible 245,[186] and third place for the FIFA World Player of the Year in 1994.[166]

1998 FIFA World Cup

After a lengthy absence from the national team, Baggio was called up by Cesare Maldini for a World Cup qualifying match against Poland on 30 April 1997; Baggio came off the bench and scored a goal in a 3–0 win.[61] He was subsequently selected as one of Italy's 22 players for the 1998 World Cup following his performances with Bologna.[187]

"I had the image of my miss from four years ago stuck in my mind. I was stepping up to the penalty spot and I thought to myself: "Just hit it hard, hit it hard..."

—Roberto Baggio on his penalty against Chile in the 1998 World Cup.[183]

In Italy's opening match of the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, against Chile, Baggio started alongside Christian Vieri, playing all 90 minutes, as Del Piero was still recovering from an injury. Vieri opened the scoring from a Baggio assist, but Chile managed to equalise and take the lead, with Marcelo Salas.[188] Baggio created several chances, but Italy were unable to equalise. Towards the end of the game, Baggio played a low cross into the box, which unintentionally touched Chilean defender Ronald Fuentes's hand at the edge of the penalty area, resulting in a fortunate penalty for Italy.[189] Despite missing the decisive penalty in the 1994 World Cup Final shootout, Baggio stepped up to take the penalty, and he scored Italy's equalising goal, becoming the first Italian player to score in three World Cups.[190] This was the first penalty he had taken for Italy since the 1994 World Cup final miss; Baggio described the goal as "liberating".[191]

In Italy's 3–0 second group match win over Cameroon, Baggio assisted Luigi Di Biagio's opening goal; he was replaced by Del Piero during the second half after sustaining a minor injury.[192] Baggio scored his second goal of the tournament in Italy's final group match against Austria, which ended in a 2–1 win to Italy. Baggio came on during the second half, replacing Del Piero, after the crowd had begun to chant his name. He scored the winning goal of the match, after combining with Moriero and Inzaghi, as Italy topped their group. With this goal, he tied Paolo Rossi's record for most goals by an Italian player in the World Cup Finals, with 9; this was his 27th and final goal for Italy.[193] He was left on the bench for the round of 16 win over Norway as Italy advanced to the quarter-finals.[194]

In the quarter-final match against eventual champions France, Baggio came on as a substitute for Del Piero in the second half, and managed to create some scoring opportunities. The score remained 0–0, and the match went to extra time, although Baggio came the closest to scoring the golden goal, with a volley from a lobbed pass by Albertini, but his shot was put just wide of Barthez's far post.[195] The match eventually went to a penalty shootout; although Baggio netted his penalty, the shootout was won by the host nation, as Italy were eliminated on penalties in a World Cup for the third consecutive time.[196] Italy's coach, was criticised for starting the recovering Del Piero ahead of Baggio, and for not allowing the two players to play alongside each other.[197] Despite rumours that the substitutions had created a rivalry between the players, Baggio and Del Piero remain friends; Baggio stated in 2008 that he has great respect for Del Piero, and that there had never been disagreements between them.[198][199] Del Piero also stated that Baggio and Zidane were the best players with whom he had ever played.[200]

Later career

Baggio was initially a regular squad member under Dino Zoff, appearing as a substitute in two Euro 2000 Qualifying matches, in a 2–0 win against Wales in 1998, setting up a goal for Vieri,[201][202] and in a 1–1 draw against Belarus in 1999.[203][204] Baggio made a starting appearance in a 0–0 friendly draw against Norway, in 1999, creating several chances, helping to set up a goal which was ruled offside, and hitting the post from a free-kick.[205][206] He was later dropped from the squad however, after Inter's poor 1998–99 season, and he was not called up for Euro 2000 due to his limited playing time during the 1999–2000 season, and accusations made against his fitness. Zoff centred his squad around younger offensive players, such as Totti, Del Piero, Fiore, Delvecchio, Inzaghi, and Montella. Baggio was voted Italy's Player of the Century in 2000.[207]

Baggio was controversially excluded from Italy's 2002 FIFA World Cup squad by coach Trapattoni, who believed him to not have fully recovered from the serious injury he had sustained during the season. Although he was initially keen to include Baggio in the final 23-man list, he ultimately excluded him from the squad; Baggio had made a direct appeal to him prior to the tournament by writing him a letter.[208] Fans and pundits criticised the omission, as Italy were eliminated by co-hosts South Korea in the Round of 16.

Many fans hoped to see him play for Italy at UEFA Euro 2004,[209] or with the 2004 Olympic squad that eventually managed a Bronze Medal,[210] but this was not to be the case.[211] He was, however, given an international sendoff by Trapattoni at the age of 37, in a friendly match against Spain, on 28 April 2004, in which he wore the number 10 jersey for the final time, and the captain's armband for part of the match. Although Baggio entertained the crowd with his creativity and skill, he was unable to score, despite winning a free-kick from which Vieri's equalising goal arose. The match finished 1–1 and Baggio was given a standing ovation upon being substituted by Fabrizio Miccoli.[212] This was his 56th and final match for Italy, and it was the first time an Italian footballer's career had been celebrated this way since Piola retired.[25]

Style of play

"There have only been two footballers that have made me cry. The first one was Roberto Baggio; the second was Ryan Giggs."

Alessandro Del Piero.[213]

"It's better to make the ball move, it doesn't sweat..."

— Baggio on his own playing style.[214]

"He's without doubt the most skilful number ten in the modern game, the archetypal playmaker, if you like, who can create chances and score goals."

Brian Laudrup on Baggio, 1995.[35]

Baggio is considered one of the best players of his generation,[215][216] and one of Italy's greatest players;[217] he is regarded by many as the best Italian player of all time.[218] Italian journalist Gianni Brera, who had observed both Giuseppe Meazza and Gianni Rivera, stated that Baggio was the best Italian player he had ever seen.[18] A world class playmaker with an eye for goal, he was renowned for his vision, creativity, and passing ability,[4][11][115][217][219][220][221] but usually played as a second forward throughout his career, as he was known for scoring goals as well as creating them.[57][219][221][222][223] This led Michel Platini to describe him as a "9 and a half", as he was not a true number 9 striker, due to his creative ability, but he scored more than a number 10 playmaker.[219][224] He also stated that Baggio's playing style coincided with the re-emergence of the attacking midfielder in Italy during the early 2000s.[57] While at Juventus, Gianni Agnelli referred to Baggio as an artist, comparing his elegance to the painter Raffaello, whilst he described the emerging talent Alessandro Del Piero as Pinturicchio.[11][225]

A young Roberto Baggio with L.R. Vicenza

Baggio was a tactically versatile player, with a good understanding of the game, and was comfortable attacking on both wings or through the centre of the pitch; this allowed him to play anywhere along the front-line.[11][57] His preferred position was in a free-role, as a creative, attacking midfield playmaker, although he was rarely deployed in this position throughout his career due to the prevalence of the 4–4–2 formation, in which he usually functioned as a striker;[57][226] it was only in later years that he was able to play in this free role more frequently.[167][219][220] A prolific goalscorer,[227] Baggio was also a set piece specialist, renowned for his accurate bending shots and free kicks.[4][228] His free kick technique influenced several other players, such as Alessandro Del Piero and Andrea Pirlo.[229] Despite his miss in the 1994 World Cup final shootout, Baggio was also a penalty kick specialist.[175][230]

Although naturally right footed, Baggio was comfortable using both feet,[219] and often began dribbling with his left foot.[231] Not particularly imposing physically, or in the air,[227] he was known for his pace and acceleration over short distances, which, along with his agility, quick feet, and technical ability,[232] allowed him to lose his markers.[220][233][234] Regarded as one of the greatest dribblers ever,[235] and as one of the most technically accomplished players of all time,[236] Baggio possessed an excellent first touch,[236] and was renowned for his skilful dribbling, ball control, and balance, as well as his ability to beat opponents with flair, body feints, or sudden changes of pace or direction, both in one on one situations, or during individual dribbling runs.[4][175][219][234][237] Known for his dislike of the defensive, physical, and tactical nature of Italian football in the 90s, Baggio drew criticism from some managers for his limited defensive work-rate when possession was lost.[57][122] An introvert, some argued that Baggio lacked leadership on the pitch, and had a difficult character, due to his disagreements with several managers,[238] although he was also regarded as a "correct" player.[239] Despite his talent and success, his career was affected by many severe injuries.[240]


Baggio's Italy jersey located in the Football Museum in Florence

In 1999, Baggio came fourth in the FIFA Player of the Century internet poll,[12] and was ranked 16th in World Soccer's list of the 100 greatest footballers of the 20th century; he was the highest ranked Italian player.[241] He was voted Italy's Player of the Century in 2000.[207] In 2002 Baggio was elected to the FIFA World Cup Dream Team,[13] and in 2003, he was the inaugural winner of the Golden Foot award, which pertains to ability and personality.[242] In 2004, he was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players,[14] and was voted 24th in the online UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll, celebrating the best European footballers of the past 50 years.[243] In 2011, Baggio was inducted into the Serie A Hall of Fame.[244] In a 2014 FIFA poll, Baggio was voted the ninth greatest number 10 of all time,[10][245] and later that year, was ranked 24th in The Guardian's list of the 100 greatest World Cup players of all-time, ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.[246]

Records and selected statistics

Baggio played in 16 World Cup matches for Italy; Ireland is the only team against which he played more than once. He is the highest Italian goalscorer of all-time in the World Cup, with 9 goals, alongside Paolo Rossi and Christian Vieri.[247] Baggio is the only Italian to have scored in three World Cups (2 goals in 1990, 5 in 1994, and 2 in 1998). 3 of his World Cup goals were scored in the group-stage, and 6 were scored during knockout matches.[247] Baggio is the joint fourth highest scorer for Italy, with 27 goals in 56 appearances, with a 0.48 goal per match average.[248] With Baggio, Italy always left the World Cup at penalty shootouts: in 1990, in the semi-finals against Argentina; in 1994, in the final against Brazil; and in 1998, in the quarter-finals against France.[249] In his 16 world cup matches, Italy lost only one, the opening game of USA 94.

Despite his penalty miss in the 1994 World Cup Final, he is statistically one of the greatest penalty kick specialists in Italian football history. Baggio has scored 85 percent of his career penalties, with only 19 misses, scoring 108 out of 127 penalties in official matches, the most in Italian football history.[22] Baggio scored 10 with Vicenza, 25 with Fiorentina, 38 with Juventus, 5 with Milan, 11 with Bologna, 1 with Inter, 11 with Brescia, and 7 with Italy (from 7 attempts, the most goals scored from the spot by a member of the national team.)[250][251] 68 of his penalties were scored in Serie A, from 83 attempts, with an 82% conversion rate, one of the best records in Serie A history.[252] In Serie A, Baggio scored 17 penalties for Fiorentina (from 19 attempts), 25 for Juventus (from 28 attempts), 3 for Milan (from 5 attempts), 11 for Bologna (from 11 attempts), 1 for Inter (from 2 attempts), and 11 for Brescia (from 18 attempts).[253] Baggio has scored penalties for 6 different Serie A clubs.[252] 4 of his 15 misses in Serie A were then scored on rebounds. Behind Totti, Baggio has scored the most penalties in Serie A history.[253][254][255] Of his other penalties, 8 were scored in Serie C (from 8 attempts), 8 in European competitions (from 9 attempts), and 17 in the Coppa Italia (from 20 attempts). In shootouts, Baggio has made 3 out of 4 career penalties;[22] in World Cup shootouts, Baggio scored twice (1990 and 1998), with his only miss in 1994.[256]

Although he never won the Serie A top goalscorer title, Baggio is currently the seventh all-time highest scorer in Serie A, with 205 goals;[257] of these goals, 96 were decisive (either equalisers or match winners).[20] Alongside Totti, Baggio has also scored the fourth highest number of free kicks in Serie A, with 21 goals; ahead of him are only Del Piero, Pirlo, and Siniša Mihajlović.[258][259] Of his open play goals in Serie A, 84 were with his right foot, 26 with his left, and 9 were headers;[254] he also assisted 118 goals in Serie A.[260] He is the fourth highest scoring Italian in all competitions, behind Del Piero, Meazza, and Piola, with 318 goals.[248] Alongside Totti and Alberto Gilardino, he has scored against the most different clubs in Serie A (38).[261]

After retirement

In August 2010, Baggio was appointed president of the technical sector of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), replacing Azeglio Vicini.[262] On 23 January 2013 he stepped down from the position, stating that the Federation had ignored his ideas about improving the system and focusing on youth talent, which moved him to quit.[263]

Baggio obtained his Italy Category 2 Coaching License (UEFA A License) in mid-2011, which made him eligible to coach Lega Pro teams, or work as vice-coach in Serie A and Serie B.[264] On 5 July 2012, Baggio obtained his Category 1 UEFA Pro Coaching Licence at Coverciano, which officially allows him to coach a professional Serie A football club.[265][266]

Outside of professional football

Personal life

After his career threatening injury in 1985, Baggio, formerly a Roman Catholic, converted to Buddhism, practicing Nichiren Buddhism, and is a member of the Soka Gakkai International Buddhist organisation.[267] Despite his conversion, he married his long-time girlfriend Andreina Fabbi in 1989 in a traditional Roman Catholic ceremony. They have a daughter, Valentina, and two sons, Mattia and Leonardo.[268][269]

Between 1991 and 2012, Baggio was the owner of a sporting goods store in Thiene, Vicenza, called Baggio Sport, which he was eventually forced to close due to losses as a result of the economic crisis.[270]

In 2001, Baggio wrote an autobiography entitled Una porta nel cielo ("A Goal in the Sky", but also "A Door in the Sky"), including details about his career, childhood, religion, personal life, and rifts with managers.[271][272] It won the award for best football book at the 2002 Serie A Awards.[22]

Baggio has close ties with Argentina; he speaks Spanish and owns a ranch property in Rivera, where he enjoys hunting wild game.[273] In March 2008, he gave a lengthy interview with La Gazzetta Dello Sport, in which he revealed that he came to support Argentine club Boca Juniors due to their passionate fanbase.[198]


On 16 October 2002, Baggio was named a Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO),[274] Through the organisation, Baggio helped to fund hospitals, raise money for the victims of the Haiti earthquake, contribute to tackling bird flu, and was involved in the Burmese pro-democracy movement, which supported the opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her release from prison.[273] Baggio was awarded the 2010 Man of Peace title in Hiroshima, Japan, presented by the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in recognition of his charitable work and contribution to social justice and peace.[275]

On 8 October 2008 Baggio appeared in a charity match between Milan and Fiorentina, which had been organised in honour of his former Fiorentina team-mate Stefano Borgonovo, to raise money for his foundation, his treatment, and for ALS research.[276] In 2014, he was one of the many celebreties to take part in the "ALS Ice Bucket Challenge", in order to raise awareness about the disease and funds for ALS research.[277]

On 1 September 2014, Baggio took part in the "Match for Peace", which was played at the Stadio Olimpico, in Rome, with the proceeds being donated to charity.[278] Baggio set up Iturbe's goal, and scored from a Maradona assist.[279] In Milan, on 25 October 2014, Baggio inaugurated the opening of the largest Buddhist temple in Europe.[280]

Media and popular culture

Graffiti of Roberto Baggio in Milan

In 1994, the Italian satirist Corrado Guzzanti parodied Roberto Baggio's advertisement for Italian Petrol Company IP prior to the World Cup.[281] The Italian poet Giovanni Raboni composed the sonnet "Lode a Baggio" in a tribute to him.[282] He has been referenced in the songs "Baggio, Baggio" by Lucio Dalla,[283] "Marmellata n. 25" by Cesare Cremonini,[284] and "Chi ha Peccato" by Giuseppe Povia.

Baggio has featured in two Italian commercials which reference his infamous penalty miss in the 1994 World Cup Final. The first was made for WIND in 2000, and shows Baggio scoring the final penalty to win the tournament;[285] The second, made for Johnnie Walker in 2001, showed how he managed to conquer his grief from the miss by believing in himself and scoring the equalising penalty against Chile in the 1998 World Cup.[286] He has featured in several Diadora commercials as he endorsed their products.[287]

Baggio is popular in Japan, and has held close ties with the country since his conversion to Buddhism.[288] He has endorsed several Japanese football video games such as Super Formation Soccer 95: della Serie A,[289] World Football Climax,[290] and Let's Make a Soccer Team!.[291][292] An animated version of himself appeared in the Japanese football cartoon "Che Campioni: Holly & Benji".[293]

In the Channel 4 sitcom Father Ted, Baggio (and Alessandro Costacurta) is mentioned during the 1995 episode, "Grant Unto Him Eternal Rest", by Father Dougal McGuire (portrayed by Ardal O'Hanlon), who, when prompted to say the last rites in Latin, ends up saying the footballers' names. (This stems from Graham Linehan and O'Hanlon being fans of Football Italia).[294] In the music video for the 2010 FIFA World Cup song "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)" by Shakira,[295] footage of Baggio's goal against Spain, and his penalty miss from the 1994 World Cup are shown.[295]

Throughout his career, Baggio has been nicknamed the "Divin' Codino", and "Robi", or "Roby" by his fans.[296] An alter-ego of his is referenced in the Italian children's comics of "Mickey Mouse" and "Duck Tales" (Topolino), in the volume "Topolino e il Giallo alla World Cup" in which he is known as "Roberto Paggio".[297] In 2011, the Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport issued a collection of DVDs entitled "Io Che Sarò Roberto Baggio" recounting his career.[298] Baggio's impact on football has been celebrated with the release of an online game called Baggio's Magical Kicks, in which players try to replicate his accuracy on free kicks and penalties.[299] In 2015, the arcade game company Konami announced that Baggio would feature in their football video game Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 as one of the new myClub Legends.[300]

Career statistics



Club Season League Cup Europe[lower-alpha 1] Other[lower-alpha 2] Total
Vicenza 1982–83 Serie C1 100010
1983–84 616[lower-alpha 3]1[lower-alpha 3]122
1984–85 2912523414
Vicenza total 36131134716
Fiorentina 1985–86 Serie A 005050
1986–87 514210103
1987–88 27673349
1988–89 31[lower-alpha 4]151094124
1989–90 3217211214619
Fiorentina total 9539281513113655
Juventus 1990–91 Serie A 33145389114727
1991–92 3218844022
1992–93 272173964330
1993–94 321722734122
1994–95 17842842914
Juventus total 141782614322211200115
Milan 1995–96 Serie A 28710533410
1996–97 235535100339
Milan total 511263104006719
Bologna 1997–98 Serie A 3022313323
Internazionale 1998–99 Serie A 2356[lower-alpha 5]1[lower-alpha 5]643510
1999–2000 19[lower-alpha 6]6[lower-alpha 6]51247
Internazionale total 4211112645917
Brescia 2000–01 Serie A 2510302810
2001–02 121110211512
2002–03 3212003212
2003–04 2612002612
Brescia total 9545402110146
Career total 4902208938633211643291
  1. Includes UEFA Cup, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, and UEFA Intertoto Cup matches.
  2. Supercoppa Italiana
  3. 1 2 Includes two appearances and one goal in the 1983–84 Coppa Italia Serie C.
  4. Includes appearance in the 1988–89 Serie A seventh-place tiebreaker match against Roma to qualify for the 1989–90 UEFA Cup.
  5. 1 2 Includes two appearances and one goal in the two-legged 1998–99 Coppa Italia third-place tiebreaker round against Bologna to qualify for the 1999–2000 UEFA Cup.[304]
  6. 1 2 Includes appearance and two goals in the 1999–2000 Serie A fourth-place tiebreaker match against Parma to qualify for the 2000–01 UEFA Champions League.



Italy national team
1988 10
1989 63
1990 94
1991 21
1992 76
1993 75
1994 125
1995 10
1997 21
1998 62
1999 20
2004 10
Total 5627

World Cup goals

Scores and results list Italy's goal tally first.[306]
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result World Cup Round
1. 19 June 1990 Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy  Czechoslovakia 2 – 0 2–0 1990 Group Stage
2. 7 July 1990 Stadio San Nicola, Bari, Italy  England 1 – 0 2–1 1990 Third place match
3. 5 July 1994 Foxboro Stadium, Foxborough, United States  Nigeria 1 – 1 2–1 1994 Round of 16
4. 5 July 1994 Foxboro Stadium, Foxborough, United States  Nigeria 2 – 1 2–1 1994 Round of 16
5. 9 July 1994 Foxboro Stadium, Foxborough, United States  Spain 2 – 1 2–1 1994 Quarter-Final
6. 13 July 1994 Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, United States  Bulgaria 1 – 0 2–1 1994 Semi-Final
7. 13 July 1994 Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, United States  Bulgaria 2 – 0 2–1 1994 Semi-Final
8. 11 June 1998 Stade du Parc Lescure, Bordeaux, France  Chile 2 – 2 2–2 1998 Group Stage
9. 23 June 1998 Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France  Austria 2 – 0 2–1 1998 Group Stage









5th Class / Knight: Cavaliere Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana: 1991[326]

See also


  1. Roberto Baggio. 2004. pp. 49–59.
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External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Roberto Baggio.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Stefano Tacconi
Juventus F.C. captains
Succeeded by
Gianluca Vialli
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