He whom the gods love dies young: A tribute to Piermario Morosini
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Today it's our Serie A blogger, footballitaliano.co.uk 's Mina Rzouki, with her take on the week's big issues in Italy.
Latin poet and playwright Titus Maccius Plautus once wrote, “He whom the gods love dies young.” It could almost have been written for Piermario Morosini, who was not only loved by the gods but by every man who had the pleasure of meeting him.
A tragic life came to an end by tragic means on Saturday, for the 25-year-old Livorno midfielder had suffered more hardships than most endure in a lifetime.
In 2001 and at the tender age of 15, Morosini lost his mother. Two years later his father passed away due to heart problems. In 2004, his handicapped brother committed suicide leaving him with a handicapped older sister to look after.
Yet this man who epitomised enlightenment never abandoned his smile, 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?”
The very girlfriend who loves him, Anna Vavassori, a Serie C volleyball player, remarked in between broken sobs, that Morosini even “appeared to be smiling,” when she came to identify his body.
A midfielder, he was renowned for his athletic ability and the strength to run, run and then run some more. He chased opponents, closed them down and loved to initiate attacking movements when he could. Dependable on the pitch, he was indispensable in the dressing room. His Atalanta youth team coach Giancarlo Finardi spoke of how loved the player was. “When I asked [the players] who was going to be captain, they answered ‘Mario’ in unison.”
In an article written by journalist Guido Maconi for Guerin Sportivo in 2005, Finardi went further in describing the player’s importance: “In these two years, he has been a point of reference on the pitch for me as well as his teammates.” Finardi spoke of Morosini's potential, his quiet leadership and the tactics that suited him best.
This article has inevitably been quoted by media sources around the world since news of his death was broadcast. In it Morosini spoke of his family’s misfortune. "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.”
He spoke of how his elderly Aunt Miranda took care of them and how he wanted to have the class of Redondo and Matias Almeyda’s wicked competitiveness. He also spoke of losing his parents, the two most important people in his life. “I would like to become a good player for them especially because I know what would make them happy.”
So many players are said to ‘live for football’ but Morosini genuinely did. It was his passion and his first love, and he possessed a certain talent that was nurtured by the prestigious Atalanta youth system. He made his Serie A debut for Udinese in the match against Inter, helped Vicenza survive relegation and went on to the don the shirts of other teams such as Bologna, Reggina, Padua and of course, Livorno, which would be his last.
His hard work was recognised and he played Italy’s national team at every level from Under-17 to Under-21, playing alongside the likes of Mario Balotelli, Claudio Marchisio and Marco Motta. The latter had spent several years with Morosini, their paths often crossing whilst playing for the same teams.
“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.”
A self confessed Sampdoria fan, SuPiermario (as he’s referred to by his fans) idolised Roberto Mancini, admitting that he grew up ‘with the myth of Mancini’. Like his idols, he was recognised as a player that gave you more than he even he possessed, he was always regarded as a potential even if he had yet to be refined.
On Saturday 15th of April, Piermario Morosini collapsed on the pitch in a Serie B match between Pescara and Livorno. Having suffered a cardiac arrest, the reason for his death is yet to be determined as autopsy results have so far proved inconclusive.
A nation has been mourning since, and both Vicenza and Livorno have retired the number 25 shirt. The funeral will be held on Wednesday in Bergamo and this afternoon the body will be taken to Livorno's Armando Picchi stadium and the Curva Nord.
When the Livorno squad and technical staff returned to their hotel past midnight on Saturday, they were surrounded by 50 supporters and escorted into the entrance where they saw a banner, the same one as in the stadium Armando Picchi. It simply read “Ciao Moro 25”.
May he rest in peace.