When Calcio Ruled the World: Sebastiano Rossi

Until recently, record breaking goalkeeper Sebastiano Rossi was only known by Serie A fans of a certain age. His name has been returned to the forefront however, as last weekend has lost his 22-year record for the most minutes of Serie A football without conceding a goal.

Four minutes of the Turin derby was enough for Gianluigi Buffon to overtake the former AC Milan goalkeeper’s record of 929 minutes without conceding a goal. The fact that this previous record-holder’s exploits have at times gone unnoticed is somewhat indicative of his whole career.

Rossi joined Cesena as a youngster before making his senior debut on loan at AC Forli in order to gain valuable experience in Serie C1. He then had loan spells with Empoli and Rondinella, before finally establishing himself as a first choice for a Cesena side that finished mid-table in the 1989/90 Serie A season.

His solid performances in Emilia-Romagna caught the attention of one of Italy’s biggest teams and in 1990, Rossi made the move to AC Milan, initially as competition for their first choice keeper Francesco Antonioli. A clean sheet in the Milan derby of 1990/91 marked his league debut and he soon claimed the number one jersey.

Under the guidance of Fabio Cappello, Rossi was an integral piece of the defence, but unlike Mauro Tassotti, Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta and Paolo Maldini, he never gained the credit he undoubtedly deserved. In the national team, he faced stiff competition from the likes of Walter Zenga, Gianluca Pagliuca and Stefano Tacconi, who were all vying for the number one slot. This meant that Rossi was often overlooked by Arrigo Sacchi.

Nevertheless, success and records were never far away at club level and Rossi broke the most impressive record of all during the 1993/94 season when he went 11 games and 929 minutes without conceding a goal. Along with his Rossoneri team mates, nicknamed ‘the invincibles’, they went from May 26, 1991, to March 14, 1993, without suffering Serie A defeat. Their trophy haul was equally impressive, as they collected five Scudetti, one European Cup, one European Super-Cup, two Italian Super-Cups and one Intercontinental Cup.

Sadly, his Milan career did not end in illustrious fashion after he received a five match ban after his team’s 2-1 win over Perugia. Perhaps frustrated that he had failed to save Hidetoshi Nakata’s penalty – a skill at which he was particularly adept during his career – he struck Cristian Bucchi in the face after the Perugia forward had attempted to collect the ball from Rossi’s net. After the ban, Rossi was unable to regain his place from a young Christian Abbiatti. He moved Perugia for one final season, where he helped to preserve the club’s top flight status before finally hanging up his gloves.

In recently losing his record to Buffon, perhaps Sebastiano Rossi will now receive some of the credit that his outstanding career deserves.


Follow Mark Neale on Twitter: @neale_mark