Roberto Baggio, Il Divin Codino,
is without a doubt a TENLEGEND, and arguably Italy’s greatest-ever player. The “divine ponytail” was a player that ranks among the giants we all know and love.
Born in Caldogno, north Vicenza in February 1967, Roberto played for Italy in 56 matches, scoring 27 goals, and shares the title of fourth-highest goalscorer for the national team. He played center-stage in the Italian team that finished third in the 1990 FIFA World Cup, even claiming two goals.
Baggio’s career began in Vicenza, where he made his entrance onto the world’s football arena as a young 15-year-old. Several clubs immediately recognized his raw talent. Fiorentina was the first to make an advance. As luck would have it, just two days before he was supposed to join the team Roberto Baggio tore his ACL making a risky sliding tackle.
Despite the injury, and to his good fortune, the contract was signed and La Viola even paid for all medical costs related to his operation. The prognosis was grim, and the injury so severe that doctors were less than optimistic about the odds of him ever wearing a football jersey again. The long and brutal recovery took 18 months. Ultimately Baggio persevered. This was a defining characteristic that served him well.
World Cup 1994
With class and elegance, he wore the number 10. His preferred role was as an attacking midfielder/creator. Due to the formations typically used by managers in Italy at the time, he was rarely used in the position.
Defense has always been a priority in Italy, and so Baggio likely felt like an Italian trapped in a Brazilian body. His idol was Brazilian legend Zico. He loved to dribble and enjoyed attention, something Italian coaches frowned upon as ego often caused friction.
Baggio’s gifts were brought into the limelight during his best season at Juventus. In 1993 he scored a total of 39 goals in all competitions, was voted World Player of the Year, along with two Serie A titles, the Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup.
He also won the Ballon d’Or, a trophy he would later sell at auction to donate to Italian flood victims in 1994. He is the only Italian player ever to score in three World Cups. The set piece specialist scored many crucial goals, but will unfortunately always be remembered for his decisive miss in the penalty roulette during the 1994 World Cup final against Brazil. His image following this failure has become legendary. This penalty will haunt him forever.
This World Cup was a career high for Roberto Baggio where he led his team to the finals and also won the World Cup Silver Boot and Silver Ball for himself. The following season, Marcelo Lippi took charge of Juventus and wanted to install a more team-oriented style, creating less dependence on Baggio. Another knee injury forced him to miss three months and allowed Del Piero to take over Juventus’ #10 role.
However, there was a magnetism about him. Fans were not only crazy about his game, but also about his signature ponytail hairstyle. He was lovingly called by his fans as Il Divin’ Codino (The Divine Ponytail). His personality resonated with people all over the world.
“Still having a place in people’s hearts, that is the greatest result any sportsman can achieve. Representing positive values, giving moments of joy, that is worth more than a result on the pitch, because sometimes results can be transformed by bad luck. That doesn’t mean trophies aren’t important, at the end of the day we all play to win, but that cannot be all there is to it,” said Baggio.
Baggio had depth. Not only was he a legendary soccer player, 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.
Not only is Baggio the only Italian footballer to have scored in three different World Cups, he is also the most scoring Italian footballer in World Cup matches. Former Fiorentina manager Aldo Agroppi loved him, professing, “The angels sing in his legs.”When FIFA celebrated its 100th anniversary, Roberto Baggio was named as one of the top 125 greatest living footballers. His goalscoring records speak for themself.
Players like Baggio are an inspiration to us. We’ve watched their every move and have tried to emulate them. Moreover, we’ve witnessed their form of genius and admire their class and depth of character. Join us.
Be a TENLEGEND™.