Baggio: The 50 Things You May Not Know

Robert Baggio might be one of the world’s most popular football players ever, adored from South America to Japan, but how much do you really know about the globe’s favourite fantasista?

Here are 50 things you may or may not know about Italy’s greatest Number 10:

  • He is a fan of The Eagles rock band.
  • He is a member of the Soka Gakkai International Buddhist organisation.
  • He wore Akuna “Cinquestelle” football boots for a while whilst at Brescia, instead of his usual Diadora.
  • He is the sixth of eight children.
  • He speaks Spanish.
  • He was named after former Italian football players, Bettega and Boninsegna.
  • Baggio is the record penalty scorer for the Italian national team, converting seven and never missing in normal time. He only ever missed one in a shoot-out…
  • He was selected in Yaya Toure’s Dream Team XI, where he partnered Pele up-front, with Maradona, Messi and Zidane behind.
  • His captain’s armband, worn since the ‘92-’93 season, contained his Buddhist order, but what does it mean? The colours are of Buddhism; the blue stripe represents compassion for all beings and the spirit of peace, the yellow is the praise of the ‘middle way’ according to the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni, away from any extreme, and the red is for the gifts of spiritual and meditative practice. The characters contain the word ‘Soka Gakkai’ with the meaning of ‘We must win’.
  • His football idol growing up was Zico.
  • Baggio received the Man of Peace award from the Nobel Peace Laureates in 2010.
  • The first time he wrecked his knee at Vicenza on the even of his transfer to Fiorentina was in a match against Rimini. The manager of the opposition at the time in Serie C1? One Arrigo Sacchi.
  • Was the record penalty goalscorer in Serie A before Francesco Totti overtook him in 2016. He still holds the record for the most penalties ever converted by an Italian.
  • A young Roberto used to cry as a child whenever an ambulance passed him by.
  • He was selected for Giampiero Ventura’s all-time Azzurri team.
  • Brescia have retired the Number 10 shirt in his honour.
    number 10
  • In 2002, Baggio was nominated Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
  • He was nominated by former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to do the Ice Bucket Challenge, helping raise money and awareness for ALS.
  • Demonstrating his sense of humour, Baggio subsequently nominated Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter to take the same challenge.
  • There is a ‘hit’ reggae song named after him, by Il Generale & Ludus Pinski, called Non È Un Miraggio! Roberto Baggio made in 1989 during his time at Fiorentina.
  • Roby has obtained all of his football coaching licences, which allow him to coach in Serie A.
  • He was selected in Leonardo Bonucci’s Dream Italian XI.
  • His debut goal in Serie A came whilst wearing the Number 11 shirt for Fiorentina.
  • Has a holiday ranch in Argentina.
  • Madonna reportedly fell in love with his “big green eyes” in 1990, and donned his Italia ’90 shirt for her concert in Rome.
  • He auctioned off his Ballon d’Or trophy, won in 1993, to raise money for Italian flood victims in 1994.
  • Baggio is a fan of Argentine football and attends Boca Juniors matches.
  • Finished fourth behind Pele, Maradona and Eusebio in FIFA fan poll for Player of the Century (vote took place in the year 2000).
  • He is a collector of antique hunting devices and has two whole rooms in his house dedicated to his collection.
  • His record for scoring in consecutive matches in Serie A is 6 (from weeks 24 to 29 of the 2000-2001 season he scored 8 goals in 6 matches).
  • He converted to Buddhism on 1 January 1988.
  • His debut goal – an equalising free-kick to make it 1-1 – secured the safety of Fiorentina in Serie A. It was also a point that confirmed Napoli as Champions for the first time, with Diego Maradona.
  • He took just 77 days to recover from surgery after snapping ligaments in his left knee in a bid to be selected for the 2002 World Cup. He scored two goals on his return, but Azzurri coach Giovanni Trapattoni chose not to include him.
  • He never appeared in a European Championships. Italy never qualified in 1992, Arrigo Sacchi overlooked him in 1996, as did Dino Zoff in 2000.
  • Baggio has been a near constant fixture in Konami’s video game series Pro Evolution Soccer, originally named as ‘Lon Barron’. He’s been included in ‘Classic Italy’ teams and most recently as a Star Classic Player for the MyLeague feature. Initially in its predecessor International Superstar Soccer, Baggio was originally named ‘Galfano’.
  • Is the only Italian to have scored in three different World Cup tournaments.
  • He supported Inter as a child.
  • Selected for Gigi Buffon’s all-time XI of best opponents the goalkeeper has faced.
  • Baggio was sent off four times in his career: 3 times in Serie A and once in the Coppa Italia.
  • Perugia have been the biggest victims of his goalscoring exploits, scoring 32 goal against them during his career. Next on his ‘hitlist’ was Inter (17 goals).
    Baggio Pro Evolution Soccer
  • Italy lost only one of the 16 World Cup games in which Baggio played (against the Republic of Ireland in 1994).
  • Baggio was Player of the Tournament for AC Milan during a unique Amsterdam six-a-side tournament in 1997 called the Sony Euro Sixes, competing against Liverpool FC, Rangers and Ajax.
  • His best average goals per game and goals per minutes season was the 2001-2002 campaign. Then, he averaged a goal every 84 minutes!
  • Was an internet gaming sensation with Baggio’s Magical Kicks.
  • He has written a ‘Forward’ for a school physics course.
  • He owned his own sports shop ‘Roberto Baggio Sports’ just outside of where he grew up, in Thiene. Opened in 1991 and generally run by his sister, Carla, it closed in 2012.
  • He was reportedly fond of drinking beer mixed with cola.
  • One of only two players to have scored a ‘Perfect 10’ rating in the notorious Gazzetta dello Sports’ ratings domestically. The other was for someone who saved another player’s life on the pitch.
  • Scored against 50 different Italian clubs during career, including against every team he played for.

and finally

  • Rather than lavishly celebrating, he spent his 50th birthday visiting victims of earthquakes in Italy, which left thousands homeless in the cities of Amatrice and Norcia.
    Sempre, Baggio.

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