Italy legend Roberto Baggio claims Ricardo Centurion is the closest thing to his heir and that the “bitterness” of his penalty miss in 1994 will never pass.
Speaking to Corriere della Sera about his football career, Baggio also discussed the differences between the past and present and his position of a ‘9.5’, while revealing his toughest opponent and the forward he most wanted to partner.
“My heir? I watch a lot of South American football and, as a fan of Boca Juniors, I really like Centurion, but he has to improve his behaviour off the pitch,” he began.
“Comparisons? I think that today, I’d have been able to play for a few more years. And it wouldn’t be just me.
“In my time, you’d wait for a kick and only after that did you think about how to win the ball back. Today, you sometimes risk a red card with your first foul.
“It was a time when you’d get a kick and you wouldn’t even know who had kicked you. It was a time of man-hunting.
“Parma? I didn’t want Parma because Ancelotti didn’t know where to play me in his 4-4-2, but the important thing is that he then regretted it!
“In today’s football, I’d be the second striker in a 4-3-1-2, next to a targetman. Platini gave me the perfect definition: I was a ‘9.5’.
“Zola? He had to go to England to find a place. How much would I cost today? I have no idea… [before a suggestion made by someone else of $150m].
“Maldini? He’s the best defender I played against. When you faced him, you knew you wouldn’t pass him.
“He was big and strong with his head and feet... You’d have to put together 15 players to make another one like him.
“Van Basten? I’d have liked to play with him. He’s the player that I exchanged shirts with most willingly.
“My penalty miss in the 1994 World Cup Final? I’ve thought about it, but the bitterness remains, even after all this time.
“It hasn’t diminished and I don’t think it’ll ever pass. I’d like to go back to those years, apart from the Final.
“The path we took was full of meaning, for the fatigue and difficulties we suffered, and the character and determination with which we came out.
“I never thought that people would ever want to step into the shoes we wore back then.
“It means that you’ve left something beautiful and profound behind, although it was the 1990 World Cup in which I felt I could do anything.”