biography

(from wikipedia)

Roberto Baggio (born 18 February 1967 in Caldogno, Veneto) is a retired Italian footballer, among the most technically gifted and popular players in the world throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. He played for the Italian national team in three World Cups, and is the only Italian player ever to score in three World Cups. He was the best Italian player of the 1994 FIFA World Cup, carrying his team to the final, but was one of the three players who missed a penalty in the final which contributed to Italy losing the trophy to Brazil on penalties. He won both the European Footballer of the Year (Ballon d'Or) and the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 1993.
As a youngster, Roberto always had a keen interest in the sport of football and played for a local youth club over a period of nine years. After scoring 6 goals in one game; Baggio was persuaded by scout Antonio Mora to join Vicenza.

CLUB FOOTBALL
Baggio began his professional career at native club Vicenza in Serie C1 during 1982. Fiorentina snapped him up in 1985, and during his years there, he rose to cult status among the team's fans who consider him to be one of their best ever players. He made his Serie A debut on 21 September 1986 against Sampdoria. He scored his first league goal on 10 May 1987 against Napoli in a match best remembered for Napoli winning the Scudetto for the first time in their history. 
He was sold to Juventus amid large outcry from Fiorentina fans in 1990 for €12 million (US$19 million),the world record transfer for a football player at the time. Following the transfer, there were full scale riots on the streets of Florence where fifty people were injured. Baggio replied to his fans saying: "I was compelled to accept the transfer". 
In 1993 he won his lone European club trophy, helping Juventus to the UEFA Cup. His performances earned him both the European Footballer of the Year and the FIFA World Player of the Year titles. 
Baggio won his first Scudetto with Juventus in 1995. This was the first of many league titles to come for Juventus in the 1990s. 
After strong pressure from AC Milan chairman Silvio Berlusconi, he was sold to the Milanese club. At this time, he had been linked with Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers in the English Premier League, but no firm offers were made from either of these clubs. 
He helped the club win the Serie A title, becoming the first player to win the scudetto in consecutive years with different teams[citation needed]. Baggio really joined Juventus in a bad period in their history, it was revealed years later, in 2005, that he was all set to join in fact Milan and that his agent had done the deal to go to Juventus instead without Baggio knowing about it. 
In 1997, when he was thought to be on the downside, Baggio transferred to Bologna in order to resuscitate his career, and after scoring a personal best 22 goals that year, was included in Italy's starting eleven for the 1998 FIFA World Cup in place of the younger and favoured Del Piero. Cesare Maldini has since been severely criticised for starting Del Piero ahead of Baggio, who was clearly in the better form, for the quarter-final match against France. When Baggio did come on for Del Piero, Italy seemed to play a lot better and Baggio nearly scored with a superb volley which only just missed the target. Had Baggio scored that shot, Italy would have won via the "golden goal" rule, and France would never have been World Champions. Cesare Maldini later apologized to Baggio for not giving him the playing time he deserved. 
After the 1998 World Cup, Baggio signed with Inter Milan. This proved to be an unfortunate move, as the then coach Marcello Lippi did not favour Baggio and hardly played him. This caused Baggio to lose his place in the national team, but whenever he could get onto the field, he never left fans disappointed. In his autobiography, Baggio later declared that Lippi had effectively dumped him after Baggio had refused to point out which Inter's players had expressed negative opinions about the coach. His last contribution to Inter Milan was two classic Baggio goals against Parma in the playoff for the last remaining UEFA Champions League place. 
After two years with Inter, in order to be called up for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, he transferred to previously unfashionable Brescia. Despite a severe injury, he miraculously recovered before the end of the season. However, Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni did not take Baggio to Korea and Japan. Fans and pundits criticised the omission of Baggio, and Italy without the inspiration of Baggio was eliminated before reaching the quarter-finals, failing to reach expectations.
Baggio continued playing at Brescia until his retirement in 2004. He played his last game on May 16, 2004 at the San Siro against Milan. In the 88th minute, Brescia coach Gianni De Biasi subbed Baggio off so he could get his curtain call. The 80,000 present at the San Siro gave him a big standing ovation. He ended his career with 205 goals in Serie A, making him the fifth-highest scorer of all time behind Silvio Piola, Gunnar Nordahl, Giuseppe Meazza and José Altafini. His number 10 jersey was retired by Brescia. He scored his 300th career goal on 16 December 2002 in Brescia's 3-1 home victory over Piacenza. He is the first player in over 50 years to reach this milestone, behind only Piola (364) and Meazza (338).

INTERNATIONAL CAREER
Baggio totalled 27 goals in 56 caps for his national team, the fourth-highest of all time for Italy. 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.

1990 FIFA WORLD CUP
Baggio's first World Cup was the 1990 FIFA World Cup, and although he was used most often as a substitute in the tournament, he was still able to display his quality, scoring twice including the "goal of the tournament" against Czechoslovakia. Baggio is also much remembered for his class; although regularly designated the penalty shooter for his team, he stepped aside when Italy was awarded one in the third place match, allowing teammate Salvatore Schillaci to score and capture the Golden Shoe.

1994 FIFA WORLD CUP
Baggio was the cornerstone of the Italy team during the 1994 FIFA World Cup, leading them to the final after a disappointing start. He scored five goals, all in the knockout phase, and he started every match from the beginning: two in the round of 16 to beat Nigeria (scoring with 2 minutes left of the game sending it into extra time, and then another goal in extra time), one in the quarter-finals to top Spain (the game winner with 3 minutes remaining) and two to beat Bulgaria in the semi-finals. Baggio was not fully fit for the final against Brazil, which ended 0-0 after extra time; he took Italy's last penalty in the resulting shoot-out, but his kick went over the cross-bar and the Brazilians won the title. Two other Italians, Franco Baresi and Daniele Massaro, had already missed penalties; had Baggio scored, Brazil would have still had a penalty to win the Cup nevertheless. Baggio has since been blamed for costing Italy that World Cup despite the fact that he singlehandedly carried a weak and aging Italian team to the final. 
Baggio finished tied for second in the tournament in goals scored and was named one of the top three players.

1998 FIFA WORLD CUP
In the opening match of the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Italy played Chile. The first goal was scored by Christian Vieri on an assist by Baggio. Chile took the lead 2-1, and Baggio would later make a good pass to Filippo Inzaghi but the Chilean keeper Nelson Tapia made an excellent save to keep the score 2-1. That was only the third time a team took the lead over Italy in a World Cup throughout the 1990s. Towards the end of the game a Baggio cross unintentionally touched a Chilean defender's hand, resulting in a penalty scored by Baggio which, undeservingly made the score 2-2. With this goal, he became the first Italian player to score in three World Cups. The Italian fans had already forgiven Baggio for his 1994 penalty miss, as it was well accepted that he was the main reason the Italian side got so far in the tournament to begin with. 
He scored two goals in the tournament; he also scored the winning goal against Austria as Italy topped their group. 
In the quarter-final match against France, Baggio would come on as a substitute in the second half. Italy had only one shot in the entire match which was just inches away, from none other than Baggio; the score remained 0-0 and the match went to a penalty shootout. Baggio scored his penalty, but Italy lost to the eventual champions France. He was one of Italy's main contributors of that tournament, the other being Christian Vieri in a team full of talent and also known for playing defensive football.

AFTER RETIREMENT
Baggio was given an international send-off match on 28 April 2004 against Spain. 
He was invited to play for the European XI at the Football for Hope Indian Ocean tsunami relief benefit on 15 February 2005 at the Nou Camp in Barcelona, but he declined the invitation.
Baggio wrote an autobiography titled Una porta nel cielo (A Goal in the Sky, but also A Gate...). In it, he told of many rifts with managers. 
Baggio is known as Il Divin Codino (The Divine Ponytail), for the hairstyle he wore for most of his career and his Buddhist background.
On his 40th birthday (February 18, 2007), Baggio started his new website to converse with his fans. As per his website he does not intend to return to mainstream football, but rather exchange words with his fans on his blogs.
In March 2008 Baggio—who has owned a ranch property in Argentina for many years—gave a lengthy interview with Gazzetta Dello Sport. In it he discussed many topics, including the team he now supports: Boca Juniors. "How did I become a fan of Boca? It's an interesting story. A rainy Sunday, I was at my house with a friend of mine and I saw a game on TV. The score was 4-0, and was played at the Boca stadium, La Bombonera. At one point they scanned across the crowd at their fans: they danced, they sang, they twirled flags and banners. A contagious joy. I said to my friend, 'It's beautiful to do this when their team is winning.' And he turned to me and said: 'Roberto, are you watching? Boca are losing 0-4! …' From that moment Boca has become my team. That stadium gives me incredible feelings."
On October 8, 2008 Baggio appeared in a charity match between Milan and Fiorentina for Stefano Borgonovo, with whom Baggio played at Fiorentina during the late 1980s.

 

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