SIX SHOOTER Salvatore Schillaci: The hot-blooded Sicilian rose to fame at Italia ’90 by picking up the Golden Boot and later went into politics sporting a fuller head of hair

Nicknamed Toto, the diminutive Italian became a hero when his six goal haul fired the home nation to a third-placed finish at the 1990 World Cup

SIX SHOOTER Salvatore Schillaci: The hot-blooded Sicilian rose to fame at Italia ’90 by picking up the Golden Boot and later went into politics sporting a fuller head of hair

Nicknamed Toto, the diminutive Italian became a hero when his six goal haul fired the home nation to a third-placed finish at the 1990 World Cup

04 June 2018 Monday 10:38
SIX SHOOTER  Salvatore Schillaci: The hot-blooded Sicilian rose to fame at Italia ’90 by picking up the Golden Boot and later went into politics sporting a fuller head of hair

IN every World Cup there is always one name, one player, who rises to prominence.

But there can be few who enjoyed such a meteoric rise to stardom as Salvatore Schillaci.

The man they called Toto was surprise inclusion in the Italy squad after a season that had seen him score 15 times in 30 games for Juventus.

However, he took his chance when it came to him spectacularly well.

And while his career didn't quite scale the heights he hit during Italia '90, his name will be forever associated with the competition.

When he received his call-up to the Italian squad for the World Cup, Schillaci had won just a single cap for his country, in a friendly against Switzerland in Basel.

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And even though he got the nod from Italy manager Azeglio Vicini, he wasn’t really expected to figure much in the tournament.

Why? Because he had some pretty impressive competition.

There was the Sampdoria duo Roberto Mancini and Gianluca Vialli.

There was Napoli’s Andrea Carnevale and Inter’s Aldo Serena.

And there was the ‘Divine Ponytail’ himself, Roberto Baggio.

And after that there was Salvatore Schillaci, the sixth choice striker.

“I would have been just as happy to be sitting on the bench,” he said later.

While he was, not surprisingly, left out of the starting XI to face Austria in the tournament’s opening game he did come on as a substitute for Carnevale in the 75thminute.

With the game still goalless, Schilacci entered the fray with the words of his teammate, the reserve goalkeeper Stefano Tacconi, still ringing in his ears.

“Go and score a header,” he urged.

Sure enough, three minutes later, Schillaci was in the right place at the right place as he rose to bullet home a Vialli cross and give the hosts a narrow 1-0 win.

By Italy’s final group game, Schillaci was now Italy’s first choice striker, such was his staggering vein of form.

And he certainly repaid coach Vicini’s faith in him.

He scored the opener against Czechoslovakia and repeated the feat in the last 16 against Uruguay.

He also broke Ireland’s heart with the only goal of the game in the quarterfinals in Rome.

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