To speak of Il Divin Codino is to speak of one of the most remarkable players in European football and the greatest talent that Italy has known.
Roberto Baggio is ranked 16th among the best players in the history of World Soccer Magazine. However, his career was not rewarded with a world title, as happened to Maradona, Pele or Beckenbauer.
On the contrary, rather. Despite being one of the most inspiring footballers of all time, Baggio's Italy jersey became synonymous with Italy's World Cup nightmare at the 1994 World Cup in the United States.
However, Baggio's shirt with Italy also had one of the most memorable designs, which was not easy for Diadora, considering that the Azzurra team (like the English and Italian) is very traditional in the design of their outfits.
Baggio's Italy T-shirt, symbol of a lost world cup... and of a football genius
When Italian manufacturer Diadora became an official supplier in 1990, the azzurra selection surprised with some of the most beautiful designs remembered.
For the Italy shirt of Baggio and his team-mates (among them Gianluca Pagliuca, Paolo Maldini, Costacurta, Franco Baresi and Roberto Mussi), Diadora introduced a new design for the neck and sleeves, with green, white and red triangles.
For the first time, the Italia shirt had what can be described as a watermark design on the main body, with the new embossed emblem on the entire material.
In that World Cup edition, Arrigo Sacchi's team had all the ingredients to win: a talented squadra, an unforgettable outfit and a star, Roberto Baggio. But it would be this last element that would ruin such a wonderful 'cocktail'.
"We lost, like in Italy'90. And that's something I don't accept. Losing on the pitch, even if you don't deserve it, can be fair. In penalties, never," Baggio would admit. The legendary Fiorentina striker would miss the decisive penalty for his team against Brazil of Ronaldo, Cafu, Romario and Claudio Taffarel.
In any case, the Italian No10 did a great job throughout the tournament, even though that individual mistake condemned Italy.
Baggio's shirt with Italy was characterised by its intense blue colour, with the peculiar typography of the numbers and a design no less characteristic of the FIGC (Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio) shield.
As mentioned, it was distinguished from other equipment of the time by the watermark with decorative pattern that can be seen on the bottom of the shirt, as well as on the high collar with geometric decorations in red, white and green.
As for the visiting shirt of Baggio's Italy team, it was characterised by its white colour with a watermark in grey with a decorative pattern. In the sleeves we recognize the same blue design with geometric figures of the high neck, with the colors of the Italian flag.
While the shorts were blue, the socks were white and had, at the top, two decorative lines in green and red. Diadora did not come up with the most imaginative design remembered, but it was emblematic.
A nightmare penalty in 1994, Baggio's farewell to the Azzurra team
As mentioned above, Baggio's jersey with Italy will be remembered for much more than a missed penalty in the 1994 World Cup final. However, this sad episode marked Baggio's trajectory (and even his memory).
"When I went to the penalty spot, I was as lucid as I could be at that moment. I knew Taffarel was always shooting, so I decided to shoot him in the middle, in mid-altitude, just so I couldn't clear him with my feet. It was an intelligent choice. However, the ball, I don't know how, rose three meters and went up. I missed a few penalties, but when I missed them they stopped me, they didn't go to the clouds," explained the Italian.
So inexplicable was that mistake that Baggio attributed it to divine providence. "The Brazilians say it was Ayrton Senna from the sky who lifted the ball. Who knows. It is the romantic explanation to an inexplicable act, except for fatigue," continues Il Divin Codino.
"I was the first penalty shooter in the team and I have never escaped responsibility. I have always said that penalties are missed by those who have the courage to take them. I failed that one. It was the hardest moment of my career, it conditioned me for years. I still dream about him.
"It was hard to get out of that nightmare. If I could erase an image of my sporting life it would be that one. That memory has stayed with me. I won't forget the embrace of Riva, the affection of the coaching staff of the national team, but I didn't have my head there anymore. When my team-mates went to dinner, I locked myself in my room. Once again, I chose isolation to solve my problems," Baggio concludes.
It has always been said that Roberto Baggio's contribution to the Italian national team was very poor (considering his enormous talent), but the truth is that Il Divin Codino culminated his career with a record of 27 goals in 56 games played with the elastic azzurra, one of the five best records of his team.
If you want to get your hands on this and other World Cup outfits, The Football Market has an extensive catalogue of vintage jerseys from national teams such as Italy, which undoubtedly marked an era.