“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time” (Thomas Edison). Surrendering, giving up, to stop trying is a unpleasant feeling, but, in certain ocasions, as a result of a set of circumstances, we are forced to do it. Nevertheless, there are people who prove that trying is always worth it, even when things are not looking up for us. A clear case is Giuseppe Rossi, the Italian footballer that announced his retirement earlier this week after 19 seasons playing professionally and five knee surgeries.
A man that got up every time he fell to do what he loved the most: play football. He put an end to his career through Instagram with the following message: “¡It has been an incredible journey!”, “My dreams came true”, “My time is up” or “¡I am proud of everything I have accomplished!” are some of the highlights of the post that the player that never gave up uploaded.
But above all of them, I have picked out the one that, in my opinion, defines the career of the former Villarreal, Fiorentina, Manchester United and Celta (among others) player. “My journey is unique. A lot of up and downs, but also some lows. The times when I was out never defined me. Mi purpose was stronger than any hurdle that rose in front of me. I never stopped dreaming when things out of my control got in my way. I love the game so much that I could have never given up. That is why I am writting this with a heavy heart but a smile on my face”.
This lines define the career of Giuseppe Rossi, lovingly known as ‘Pepito’. A trajectory that seemed destined for stardom before being slowed down by injuries. Over 350 matches at the highest level in which he scored 130 club goals as well as 30 international caps and seven goals with the ‘Azzurri’.
A striker that could have marked an era:
When speaking of Rossi, we talk about an all-around striker that displayed his best football in ‘Estadio de la Cerámica’ (known as ‘El Madrigal’ back then). At 1.73 meters tall, he was a different footballer with above average technical capacities and a brilliant left foot. A player that would have fit right in in Spain’s ‘Tiki-Taka’ system.
He began his career in Parma, where he raised the attention of Sir Alex Ferguson, who signed him for Manchester United. He did not get many opportunities and ended up back in Parma on loan. In ‘Il Crociati’ he performed to a high level (9 goals in 19 games) that earned him a move to LaLiga, to be exact, to Villarreal.
At the ‘groguet’ team, before being surpassed by Gerard Moreno, he became the top scorer in the history of the ‘yellow submarine’ with 82 goals in five seasons wearing his iconic number 22 on the back at Villarreal. A player destined for greatness who reached his peak in the 2010-2011 season.
Back then, Giuseppe was 24 and had his full career ahead of him. In 56 matches, ‘Il bambino’ recorded 32 goals and 11 assists that out them amongst the best players in that era. The duo he made with Nilmar is one to be remembered as they managed to reach the 50 combined goals mark between all competitions.
In an interview with Sky Sports, the Italian born in the US told that he was even close to leaving for teams like Guardiola’s Barça or Conte’s Juventus in the summer of his best season.
Rossi declared the following for the Italian outlet: “The contract with Barça was established, but there were differences between both teams in terms of the payment. As soon as Barça knew what Villarreal wanted, their focus shifted and I did not end up there”.
On the other hand, he also revealed why his transfer to Juventus failed. The Italian said this about the summer that could have changed his career: “when Conte arrived at Juventus, I was really close to join them, but Villarreal had just sold Cazorla and said they could not let me go as well”.
In the end, ‘Pepito’ remained at Villarreal and, the 26 of October of 2011 at Santiago Bernabéu, the career of the forward changed forever. During that match, Giuseppe Rossi fractured the ligaments of his right knee, an injury that kept him away from the pitch for about six months. That period ended up being of over 500 days as he would yet again get hurt in April of 2012.
That was the start of a streak of injuries that did not allow him to play consistently. It looked like he would make a comeback in the 2013-2014 season at Fiorentina, where he managed 16 goals in 21 matches. A year in which he had one of his best performances ever: a hat-trick in a 4-2 win against Juventus. But another injury prevented him from becoming his old self.
After that, Rossi was sent on loan to Levante and Celta (scoring a hat-trick against Las Palmas) and, afterwards, left for Genoa and Real Salt Lake in the US. He would play his last profesional minutes at SPAL.
And that way, Giuseppe Rossi puts an end to a career derailed by injuries. But as he says, “my dreams came true, I have lived my life”. There is nothing left to do but thank a player that gave us great moments in LaLiga and showed us that, even against all odds, we should never give up.
Thank you, ‘Pepito’.
Translated by Nuño Alonso.
Main image: @VillarrealCF.