Zoff, the Azzurri team’s goalkeeper and captain, said he had no inkling that Rossi was seriously ill.
As Italy mourned the loss of the man who lit up the 1982 World Cup, the death of Paolo Rossi hit Dino Zoff like a bolt from the blue.
His wife, Federica Cappelletti, and Rai Sport, where he worked, confirmed the death of Rossi on Thursday, allegedly following a battle with illness.
He was 64 and was best remembered at the World Cup hosted by Spain for his feats in 1982.
“I’m so sorry,” Zoff, quoted in La Gazzetta dello Sport, said “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what to say, it was a blue bolt. We’ve always had a great relationship with Paolo, a nice guy, smart, we haven’t heard from each other for a while, they told us something but I didn’t think it was so serious.”
He had a wonderful relationship with him, and he was very nice. It is something that is hard to understand.
“A part of us has gone,” said Collovati. “A part of my life goes away.”
Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy added on Twitter: “In our hearts forever. Farewell Pablito.”