Roberto Baggio and A Look Back At His Missed Decisive Penalty in the 1994 World Cup

1 year ago

Roberto Baggio is widely considered one of the greatest Italian footballers. Despite his numerous accomplishments on the pitch, one moment stands out as a defining moment in Baggio's career: his missed penalty in the 1994 World Cup final

This penalty kick has become one of the most memorable moments in World Cup history. Also, it has been the subject of much discussion and analysis over the years. 

In this article, ULSfootball will take a closer look at this event. Keep reading for more!

Who is Roberto Baggio?



Let's find out the basic information about this talented football player!


Roberto Baggio (February 18, 1967) was born in Veneto, Italy, to Florindo Baggio and Matilde Maggio. 

Baggio's exceptional talent as a football player was recognized at a very young age. At the age of nine, he was selected by the local club Caldogno to join their youth team. Within two years, he had become an outstanding talent who could score numerous goals.

Vicenza bought him for 300 pounds when he was 13 years old, and he quickly progressed to the first team in 1983. Over the next two years, Baggio demonstrated his remarkable talent as a playmaker, catching the attention of larger clubs in Italy.

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Football Career and Achievements

Roberto Baggio had a remarkable career that spanned over two decades and saw him play for some of Italy's biggest clubs, including:

  • Fiorentina
  • Juventus
  • AC Milan
  • Inter Milan
  • Brescia

His career took off when he signed for Fiorentina in 1985 for a fee of £1.5 million after he suffered a career-threatening injury. He became a legend at the club, scoring 39 goals in 94 appearances. 

After five seasons with Fiorentina, Juventus signed him for a world-record fee of £8 million in 1990. During his five seasons with Juventus, Baggio scored 115 goals in 200 appearances, helping the club win the UEFA Cup in 1993.

His international career was just as impressive. He made his World Cup debut for Italy in 1990 and scored two goals, including a spectacular strike against Czechoslovakia. In 1994, he was Italy's biggest star and scored five goals as he led the team to the World Cup final. He was named the tournament's best player despite missing the decisive penalty in the final shootout.

Baggio won numerous awards, including the FIFA World Player of the Year and European Player of the Year awards in 1993. He was listed fourth in the FIFA Player of the Century internet poll in 1994 and was selected for the FIFA World Cup Dream Team in 2002. In 2004, he was selected by Pele as one of the FIFA 100 greatest living players in the world.

His career had its ups and downs, but his remarkable skill and talent were undeniable. He remains an icon in Italian football.

The Nickname "Il Divin Codino"

Roberto Baggio's nickname "Il Divin Codino" translates to "The Divine Ponytail". This nickname perfectly describes his iconic hairstyle, which he kept throughout his career. The word "Divine" also represents his outstanding footballing talent, which was a combination of skill, precision, and creativity. 

His nickname is also a nod to his religious beliefs, as he is known for being a devout Catholic. His nickname is a testament to his status as one of Italy's greatest footballers. Despite coming from a country renowned for its defensive football, Baggio's playing style was characterized by his technical ability and creativity. It was reminiscent of the flair of South American footballers.

Roberto Baggio and The Missed Penalty in The 1994 World Cup



Let’s explore the circumstances surrounding his missed penalty and its impact on his legacy as a football player!

The Hero Who Brought The Final World Cup to The Italian

Baggio has never stopped making the hearts of Italian football fans sob. His sculptural beauty captivated an entire generation. But the sad eyes also make fans sigh.

Many people call Baggio "the great loser." A football genius like Baggio should have deserved more than two Serie A titles. He was Italy's top scorer in World Cup history in the era when Serie A was the number one tournament on the planet.

Roberto Baggio admits he wants to erase July 17, 1994, from the timeline. But that is also the day "Divine Horsetail" forever entered the history of world football.

Baggio was the criminal of the whole of Italy after a failed penalty shootout in the 1994 World Cup final.

The line between victory and defeat is measured in the blink of an eye. For archers, that line is less than 1 mm long. For track and field athletes, it only takes 0.1 seconds to become a champion. For Roberto Baggio, that fragile edge is just the crossbar of the goal.

Il Divino Codino” lives forever in the hearts of football fans with the pain of Italy losing the gold cup to Brazil. It was after the fateful penalty shootout in Pasadena (USA) on July 17, 1994.

Baggio came to the US in 1994 as the owner of the Golden Ball and with the country's expectations on his shoulders. Baggio's Italy got off to a slow, even disappointing start. "Azzurri" fell into an easy group with Norway, the Republic of Ireland, and Mexico but struggled. 

With a faint kick, Arrigo Sacchi's teachers and students received a rain of criticism from their hometown. After three matches, Italy only had 4 points and reached the next round as one of the third-placed teams with a good record.

Baggio only really came to light from the knockout round. Two minutes before the round-of-16 match between Nigeria and Italy ended, the African team was still leading 1-0. However, when the clock ticked to the last minute, Baggio brought Italy out of the door of death. The match entered extra time, and Italy came back successfully with a goal after 100 minutes. The scorer was still Baggio.

Baggio continued to decide the fate of Italy before Spain. This time it was a late goal. In the semi-final against Bulgaria by Hristo Stoichkov, Baggio was the main character.

In the 20th minute, with just a delicate touch, he passed Petar Hubchev and hit the net. Five minutes later, Baggio doubled the lead with a right-footed cross. With his sublimation, Italy won the right to the final.

American girls who were only passionate about playing sports with many points, suddenly realized: It turns out that a soccer star, a sport with low scores, can also be so handsome and pompous. Baggio's ponytail became a craze in this country.

The Italian team would never have made it to the final in 1994 without Baggio as a guide. But then tragedy happened on the penalty spot 11 meters, right in front of the threshold of heaven.

Roberto Baggio Missed The Penalty 

Few people know that during the opening ceremony of the 1994 World Cup, singer Diana Ross missed a penalty in front of an empty goal. Then, the tournament also coincidentally ended with another failed penalty.

The final between Italy and Brazil took place closely with top-notch Italian defensive art under the command of captain Franco Baresi. Baggio and Romario, two contenders for that year's World Cup Player of the Year, didn't have much of a chance. The match ended with a 0-0 draw after 120 minutes of play and the "life and death" line of Baggio's career was decided on the penalty spot.

In the first shot, Marcio Santos on the Brazilian side and Baresi on the Italian side both missed. Romario, Branco, and Dunga successfully shot the Brazilian side in the next three rounds while Daniele Massaro missed in the fourth leg of Italy.

The fate of the Italian boys once again rested heavily on Baggio's shoulders. Baggio understood that if he missed, Brazil would win the championship. Baggio is an expert on penalties and not many Italians believe he will miss that fateful penalty. It was at the World Cup that year that Baggio also hit Nigeria from the 11m spot.

"I've only missed very few penalties in my career because the goalkeepers saved them. I don't shoot wide. So it's hard to explain what happened. I was very alert before the shot. But unfortunately, the ball went over the crossbar. It was the worst moment of my career. I used to dream about it,” Baggio later recounted.

Nearly 30 years after that moment, the memory of Brazil's triumphant scene may have faded. But the image of Baggio leaning on his hips under the blazing sun is still imprinted in the minds of any audience.

The moment of Baggio's contemplation made people remember more than the title of champion that year.

People don't remember Baresi or Massaro missing the penalty. Nor do they remember the glory of Brazil. But the picturesque boy with eyes full of tormented rays has become the immortal image of world football.

Baggio is the embodiment of life, sometimes glory and failure are determined by moments. 27 seconds, it only took 27 seconds to turn a hero into a national criminal for fanatical Italians. 27 seconds since Baggio stepped on the penalty spot and then he kicked into the sky. And 27 seconds is also the thin line between victory and defeat. From the top to the bottom, Baggio tasted it after just one shot into the sky.

Baggio chose to live with pain. Four years after that fateful kick, Baggio broke through the murky memory with a penalty. In the first match at the 1998 World Cup final against Chile, Baggio once again bravely stepped up to the penalty spot. At that time, Italy was forced to score the equalizer when the match had only 5 minutes left. The life of Italy rested on his shoulders. This time, Baggio did not have a ponytail and successfully shot.

He was always estranged from the legendary Italian coaches. When Juventus found Alessandro Del Piero, Baggio had to leave. When he arrived in Milan, Baggio met Sacchi and then Oscar Tabarez. To this day, no one in Italy has forgotten Tabarez's quote referring to Baggio himself: "In modern football, there is no room for poets."

But the poet was also a Roman warrior. Baggio got up from his disappointment in America. He scored 115 goals after the forgettable July 17 until his retirement.


Remembering the World Cup in the US, Roberto Baggio made the hearts of football fans both infatuated and dumbfounded. When witnessing the moment when the magical ponytail fluttered in the wind, the sadness of that football match reappeared. Many people wanted to believe that there must be another goal in the sky that day. There, Baggio's ball went straight to their hearts. 

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