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April 14, 2012 witnessed the death of Italian footballer, Piermario Morosini. The midfielder who was on loan at Serie B side Livorno from his parent club Udinese, suffered a suspected cardiac arrest after just 30 minutes of his side’s league clash against Pescara. Morosini tried in vein to return to his feet but was unable to do so, prompting frantic scenes at the Stadio Adriatico, which saw a defibrillator used on the stricken midfielder, allowing him to leave the pitch, albeit on a stretcher, in a conscious state.
With Livorno leading 2-0, the match was abandoned after his team mates and opposition players remained visibly upset by the ordeal. Morosini was rushed to Santo Spirito hospital, but was announced dead before arriving.
The death of such a talented individual in the footballing community is punishment enough, but even more so when one looks at the life and hardship faced by Piermario Morosini and his family. Before the tender age of 15, Morosini’s mother passed away, with the misery compounded further by the loss of his father two years later, due to heart problems. In 2004, Morosini was forced to deal with the suicide of his handicapped brother, leaving him to look after his other sibling, his younger sister who was also handicapped.
A young man, who for many in football was considered one of the happiest individuals around, Morosini was perceived as a gentleman who never abandoned his smile. He was loved by a community and demonstrated tremendous virtues as a down to earth and visibly blessed man. He admitted he was fortunate, telling a close friend “I do the job that I always wanted to do and I have a girlfriend who loves me, why should I seek anything else?”
A workhorse in the middle of midfield, Morosini was respected immensely by his peers and his coaches. Renowned for his determination, Morosini won 18 caps for the Italy Under 21 side after representing every age group since the age of 16. Morosini was seen as a consistent performer, indispensable on the field and vital in the dressing room. His former Atalanta youth coach Giancarlo Finardi spoke of him fondly. “When I asked [the players] who was going to be captain, they answered ‘Mario’ in unison.”
Football was considered by many to be the fundamental driving force behind Morosini’s success in life. The focus demonstrated throughout his career was thought by many to be a result of the hard times he had been forced to face.
Morosini admitted, “I have often wondered why it all happened to me, but I can never find an answer and this makes me hurt even more. But life goes on.” The midfielder felt as if he owed a lot to his family, dedicating his career and success to his deceased parents. “I would like to become a good player for them especially because I know what would make them happy.”
The emphasis that football held in his life truly is outstanding. Former team mate Marco Motta optimized his determination and commitment, “He was really a man. He lived through great adversity,” said Motta. “After his father’s death that occurred during the week, many had advised him not to play. On Sunday, calmly, he chose to take his place in midfield. This was symbolic of a person who lived for football. He wanted to realise his dreams, play with the pros and also for his parents. He never lost his smile. I, however, lost a friend.”
Morosini’s death came less than a month after English midfielder Fabrice Muamba ‘died’ for 78 minutes after collapsing in Bolton’s FA Cup match against Tottenham Hotspur. Although Muamba is set to recover after a lengthy stay in hospital, both incidents have helped raise awareness in the sport concerning heart deficiencies.
Udinese captain and former team mate of Morosini, Antonio Di Natale, is now set to look after the former Livorno midfielder’s handicapped sister, with financial support from Udinese in a remarkable gesture of support to a team mate and a friend who was loved by all. Livorno, his final club has expressed their deepest wishes, retiring the number 25 shirt in his honour.
The loss of such a talented and energetic individual is one that will affect many throughout the footballing world. Morosini’s influence throughout his career is undeniable, receiving great honours and commanding respect from all those around him. The condolences demonstrated have been those of emotional goodbyes and thanks for a football player who lived for the game and dedicated his whole life to the well being of others.
Thousands are expected to pay tribute to him at his funeral in Bergamo on Thursday 19th April, in the city where he was born.
May he rest in peace.