From playmaker to pipemaker : Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine

From playmaker to pipemaker


As a player in Italy’s third-division
professional football league, Serie C,
Franco Rossi was accustomed to hearing
the adulation of adoring fans in a
17-year career that saw him play for
several teams. As a midfielder, Rossi
was a playmaker, something of a field
general—setting up scoring opportunities
for the forwards playing in front of
him or rushing back to add his speed
and tenacity to the defense’s efforts to
prevent the other team from scoring.
As a professional athlete, Rossi spent
hours each day practicing his craft and
honing his skills to enable himself to
consistently perform at his best, allowing
him to cover as much as six miles
sprinting and dashing after the ball on
the soccer pitch during a 90-minute
game. Sometimes even the best training
regimen can’t overcome age and the
effects of a serious injury, however, and
Rossi’s playing career ended when he
was 35 years old.

Some athletes have a difficult time
adjusting to their post-retirement lives.
They miss the limelight and the big paychecks.
They long for the pressure-filled
moments when the outcome of a game
depends on all their hard training during
practice. They feel out of place away
from the playing field, and many of
them spend the rest of their lives reliving
old moments with fans at sports
memorabilia shows trying to recapture
fleeting memories of past glories.
Rossi is not one of those sad
ex-athletes—far from it, in fact. While
he received a paycheck playing soccer,
the wages earned by a Serie C athlete
never approached the tens of thousands
of lira that players in Italy’s top football
league, Serie A, earned during Rossi’s playing days in the 1970s and 1980s.
He never was one to seek the glory that
so many of his teammates and opponents
Playing soccer was a job
for Rossi. To be sure, it was a job he
enjoyed immensely, but he always felt
slightly uncomfortable about the adoration
that fans offered him. Rossi tried
as much as possible to avoid it. He did
what was required of him to stay on the
teams he played for, but he also realized
that he would have to make plans for
his life after his playing career came to
an end. Fortunately for Rossi, a family
connection opened a whole new life
for him.

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Category: Feature Article, Summer 2017

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