Pierluigi Casiraghi: a tale of a talent lost too soon.
Pierluigi Casiraghi was a product of what you may describe as the ‘golden era’ of Italian football, before Premier League domination, during a period of lucrative business, shocking controversies and European dominance.
Away from the mayhem and congestion of the topflight, Casiraghi was a man of humble beginnings. Born in Monza, the forward started out at his hometown club between 1985 and 1989 in the considerably less prestigious Serie C and Serie B divisions, scoring 28 goals in 94 appearances.
His modest form earned him a move Italian behemoths Juventus where he would go on to win, in typical La Vecchia Signora fashion, two UEFA Cup titles and a Coppa Italia. However, with just 20 goals in 98 game, a record equivalent to blasphemy in such an accomplished squad, Casiraghi soon found himself on the move again.
It certainly was not the most fluid of transitions, not that there was much to carry over in the first place, with Casiraghi netting a sad and sorry looking two goals in his opening first season at the club. A lesser man may have keeled over at this point, accepted his losses and returned to the Serie C, like a hero returning from a long and tiresome journey. The kind of journey that costs someone two arms, one leg and their pride.
But Casiraghi was strong. He had overcome the trials and tribulation of Juventus and come out a stronger man. Taking full advantage of his newly formed partnership with Croatian forward Alen Boksic, the Italian netted 12 goals in 34 games in his second season, and dispelled all inklings of doubt with an acrobatic overhead kick to see off bitter rivals Roma in 1995.
Just a season later he was up to his old tricks scoring 14 goals, helping his side to a fourth-placed finish.
The industrious forward sprinted, darted, jogged, marauded, barged and bumped his way into a move to Chelsea in 1998.
A dream for most; a nightmare for him. For the end of the Italian’s short and painfully average Chelsea spell, and subsequently, his professional career, came against West Ham United.
Chasing a one-goal deficit Casiraghi made a valiant effort to rescue the ball at the back post but collided with Hammers keeper Shaka Hislop. If you value your career, then goalkeeping giant Hislop is not the kind of wall you want to bump into.
Unfortunately, the former Lazio man had to learn that the hard way. The resultant cruciate ligament injury put Casiraghi out for two years, and within that period he underwent a total of ten major operations in an attempt to revive his career.
But Chelsea’s effort would prove fruitless. After it was determined his nerves were damaged upon repair Stamford Bridge chairman Ken Bates finally conceded defeat (as per The Guardian) admitting: “We have been paid £4,050,000 insurance, which will mean he can’t play top-level football again. We gave him 20 months, but he was still walking with a limp, so we had no choice.”
Casiraghi’s agent Fabio Parisi did actually dispute the clubs decision to terminate his contract prematurely arguing that there was a slim chance his client could make a miraculous comeback, but realistically, given the exhaustive efforts to correct the issue, it was very unlikely.
He would never play again.
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