It’s of little surprise that as a player with such graceful demeanor and heavenly ability, Roberto Baggio drew all manner of lavish praise from some of the biggest names in football throughout his time on the pitch.
Add to this an extremely eventful career which reached such glorious heights and heartbreaking lows, his legacy as one of the most popular players ever gave plenty for the world of football to talk about.
Here are 50 of the best quotes in honour of the divine Number 10.
The angels sing in his legs.
Former Fiorentina coach Aldo Agroppi.
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.
His former coach at Brescia, Carlo Mazzone.
A year ago before his injury he was the best in the world. He is a very special player. He always prepares very well and is the supreme professional.
Former Brescia president Luigi Corioni after Roby signed a new deal to stay with Brescia in 2002.
Only Baggio can stop Italy flopping.
Johan Cruyff before World Cup ‘94.
Baggio is a timebomb for the opposition. But that’s not necessarily to our advantage.
Former Italy coach Azeglio Vicini in 1989.
He should have made more of an impact at every club he played for and should have been more of a leader. Instead, despite having the possibility to do that, he just wanted to be part of a squad and this strangely proved to be a problem in his relationship with many coaches. However, we must all thank Baggio for what he has done in his career.
Legendary AC Milan and Italy Number 10, Gianni Rivera, after Baggio’s retirement.
I won’t drop Baggio. I wouldn’t swap him for Maradona.
Arrigo Sacchi after Italy’s opening defeat against the Republic of Ireland in USA ’94.
When other players run, he stands still. When other players do the predictable, he creates. When other players are stressed, he keeps his cool.
Argentina and Real Madrid legend, Jorge Valdano.
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, in 1995.
AC Milan paid £13m for Lentini so Baggio must be worth at least £20m.
Paul Ince in 1993 when the £13m fee was the world record transfer fee.
He’s always there in my heart. He was a champion on and off the field, a fabulous guy.
You could see that he was something very special. Brilliant technique. You could see, you could smell it: that he was a big talent and going to be a great player.
Baggio’s former Fiorentina coach, Sven-Goran Eriksson in 1993.
I wanted to play with Roberto Baggio. I grew up with the myth of Baggio, so when I have been presented with this chance I did not think even a second.
Pep Guardiola when asked why he joined Brescia, when he could have signed for anyone in the world.
He’s fantastic. You know that I have always played with many great footballers, but nobody is like him, so clever, such a good person and such strong player.
Ronaldo after Baggio joined him at Inter in 1998.
Baggio has always had an autonomous character.
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.
He told me to take it. We hadn’t won the World Cup but he offered me the opportunity to finish the tournament as top scorer. That gesture was typical of Roberto.
Toto Schillaci after Baggio, Italy’s designated penalty taker, told him to take the penalty in Italia 90’s Third/Fourth place play-off game against England in.
I wouldn’t say Baggio is a number 10, more of a 9 and a half.
Michel Platini in 1993.
He is one of the No.10s that has made football history. He has left a mark on the game and not only in Italy. The fact that he has now scored over 200 goals is proof of an extraordinary career. In fact, he could have done even more had he not suffered those serious knee injuries.
Giovanni Trapattoni on calling up Baggio in 2004 for his last Italy match.
One of the greatest ever.
He has the intelligence and physique that reminds me of Maradona. I feel Roberto can play on until he is 40.
Former Brescia president Luigi Corioni.
It makes more sense to step away from the dinner table with a little appetite left as I did. It’s better he’s made the decision himself rather than someone else making it for him. If that was the case then you’ve made a mistake by playing on.
Gianni Rivera on Baggio’s announced retirement.
The first move all Italian teams make when the play Juventus is to man-mark Baggio as tight as they can. He has learned, not only to live with that, but to beat it. He still gets 15-20 goals a season.
David Platt in 1994.
He is one of the best players in Italy, possibly the world…forget the possibly.
Arrigo Sacchi in 1993.
Baggio on the bench? It’s something that I will never understand in my lifetime.
I won it and he didn’t, is that what you’re saying? But he was only playing with one leg.
Francesco Totti to a journalist when questioned on comparisons between himself and Baggio in their contrasting World Cup final outcomes.
Baggio wasn’t the problem, it was the various coaches who were the problem. They weren’t capable of managing someone of his talent.
Former Italian international Alessandro Altobelli.
He has so many strengths and it is hard, almost impossible to find a weakness. He is one of the most exciting and gifted players you could wish to see. Even when he is closely marked he has the ability to make space for himself with a trick or a dummy.
Paul Ince 1993.
I wish I had the invention of Baggio.
When Roby was training, he always gave everything. He always trained enthusiastically, like a little kid, and I envied him. He was always there for many of us. He always said ‘I am here for every problem or advice if you need it.’
Former teammate, Luca Toni, at Brescia.
I had one of the best views of his astonishing [four goal] performance. I was playing in the same Juventus team against Udinese. Playing? Watching would be a better word. He hit two of his four goals after simply walking the ball past a trio of defenders.
Now there is Baggio, the greatest of all players. He not only makes assists but he also scores – wonderful…
Ronaldo licks his lips at the prospect of partnering Baggio after he signed for Inter in 1998.
It’s true that in Barcelona I had been lucky enough to play with great players, but Baggio was special in so many ways. I played with Laudrup, Romario, Koeman, Ronaldo, Stoichkov but I never saw anyone like Baggio.
I can describe him in one adjective: Exceptional.
Arrigo Sacchi after the World Cup semi-final victory over Bulgaria.
All the passes of the Italian team go his way. He is expected to be a star, and he was.
Hristo Stoichkov after the same semi-final.
That goal against Czechoslovakia was marvelous. I didn’t know his name then but that goal and his big green eyes conquered me.
Madonna in 1990.
There’s not a team in the world that wouldn’t like to have him in their line-up.
Former Arsenal and England man Don Howe in 1995.
I cherish a wonderful memory, he is a great guy, he gave me lots of advice and often took me for coffee. I was young and he already a star player. He could have avoided wasting time with me, but never – he was really special. I think he’s one of the best players that Italian football has ever produced. Technically he was exceptional, with the ball he did what he wanted. I stood looking at him to try to steal a few secrets, but it was impossible to copy it.
Former teammate at Bologna and Inter, Mohamed Kallon.
Roberto Baggio was the best player I ever played against; he made football look very easy.
Matt Le Tissier speaking in 2012.
I said, ‘No, you have to play striker.’ Baggio went to another club. That year Baggio scored 22 goals – for Bologna! I lost 25 goals! Big mistake.
Carlo Ancelotti on his error of not signing Baggio after the fantasista wanted to sign as a playmaker/number 10, whilst the coach was a strict 4-4-2 man at the time.
I saw him leave the field with tears in his eyes. He loves football and he’s given football a lot.
Trapattoni after Baggio’s last game for Italy.
I was 17 and made my debut against Roberto Baggio, which was frightening. He is the best Italian player of the last 30 years.
When I met you in 1993, you were the greatest. Roby, I learned a lot from you, I played with you, I won with you. You were a great companion, and when our paths at club level separated, inheriting your jersey was an honor as well as a great responsibility. Every time we met afterwards, on the field, as opponents, we embraced with friendship and respect.
Alessandro Del Piero 2017.
It was an honor to meet you as an opponent and a privilege to have you as a teammate.
Paolo Maldini, 2017.
One of the best Italian players of all time. I’m a big fan of his.Unfortunately I have not got to play with him. It remains one of the best Italian players of all time.
I had the good fortune to have seen [Giuseppe] Meazza, and I thought of him when I saw Baggio play. Baggio has fantasy.
Iconic Italian sports writer, Gianni Brera.
More productive than Maradona [for Napoli]. He is without doubt the best number 10 in the league and he still has so much to give, still has room for improvement.
Miguel Montuori during the ‘88-’89 season.
He never tried to use the influence of the press for only himself, and didn’t have any trouble playing on that [Brescia] team. He taught a lot to his companions: first as men, then as players.
When you watch Baggio play, you hear children. Baggio is the impossible made possible, a snowfall from an open door in the sky.
Italian songwriter, Lucio Dalla.
Happy Birthday to Roberto Baggio, a champion of the beautiful game who’s never shown even a hint of arrogance.
Roma coach Luciano Spalletti, 2017.