The next Paolo Rossi?

Giuseppe Rossi reminds a lot of Italian soccer fans of another Azzurri star.

Giuseppe Rossi reminds a lot of Italian soccer fans of another Azzurri star.

Italy's Guiseppe Rossi was the leading scorer at the Olympic soccer tournament last summer in Beijing. ((DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images))


Born: Feb. 1, 1987, in Teaneck, N.J.

Position: Forward

Nickname: Peppe

Clubs played for: Born and raised in New Jersey, Rossi moved to Italy following a successful tryout with the youth team of Serie A side Parma. He left the Italian outfit when he was 17, joining Manchester United in 2005. Rossi shone with United's youth and reserves teams, but only managed to make a handful of appearances for the Red Devils, and after being sent back to Parma on loan, Rossi was sold by United to Spanish club Villarreal in 2007.

International career: Rossi was invited to take part in the U.S. training camp prior to the 2006 World Cup, but he declined the offer, pledging his international allegiance to Italy. Rossi played for Italy's Under-16 and Under-18 teams before being named to the Italian Olympic squad for the 2008 Games, where he led the tournament in scoring with four goals. Rossi made his debut for the Italian national team last October in a World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria.

Why is he so special? Touted as the next Paolo Rossi — the legendary forward who propelled Italy to victory at the 1982 World Cup — the Villarreal star is a natural goal scorer who can burn defenders with his speed and dribbling ability.

His most famous moment: Rossi scored on his debut for Villarreal against Valencia on Aug. 26, 2007.

He said it: "It's always been my dream to play for Italy."

What they're saying about him: "He's a good player, in fact, an excellent player. It was difficult to let him go to Villarreal." - Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United manager.

Here's an interesting fact: Giuseppe's father, Ferdinando Rossi, is a former soccer coach at Clifton High School in New Jersey.