Waking up to watch a football game on a Saturday or Sunday is like a religion to some fans. Their routine may be to meet up with friends or family, to watch the game live at the stadium or just at home. No matter where the game is being played, each passionate fan has the same goal in mind, to win.
When the game is finished, our emotions get the best of us sometimes. Fans who see their team win salute their coach and players, while the losing side has a bitter taste in their mouth. Some fans wish for their coach or certain players to be fired because they are not satisfied with the performance. Ultimately, the coach always takes most of the blame.
Losing can be overwhelming and unfortunate at times. We tend to lose focus on what’s important and shift to more negative thoughts. While the result is not always what we want, we shouldn’t forget that the coach or player on the field are no different than ourselves. They play their heart out for the crest on their jersey.
This leads us to a long-time legend, Sinisa Mihajlovic, who was recently diagnosed with cancer. When the Bologna coach announced this at his press conference, no one was expecting this news and was caught by surprise. It was news that no-one wanted to hear and, when we hear this type of news it reminds us that these players are no different than us. With Sinisa, we have someone who has always fought through his career.
The Serbian played as a defender with teams such as Vojvodina, Red Star Belgrade, Roma, Sampdoria, Lazio and Internazionale. Each team had a different path; however, it was not easy as the Serbian was never easily accepted into these teams in his early career. Nothing was ever given to him, he always fought for what he earned in life.
Before Sinisa Mihajlovic arrived to Lazio, hard work and dedication brought him to that next level. He’s known for his extraordinary long-distance striking, crossing, and passing ability. His precise curling and strong left footed shot are what helped him to score free kicks on a regular basis. He was a free kick and set play specialist. Regarded as one of the best free kick takers of all time, the Serbian holds the record for most free kick goals tied with Andrea Pirlo with 28. He started on the wing and at central midfield, but when he met the coach of Roma, Carlo Mazzone, he switched him to a defender. That was the position he would go on to play the rest of his career.
His journey until Lazio didn’t come with any medals. The bigger prize he developed was a strong work ethic and fearlessness. When Sinisa Mihajlovic was brought to Lazio by coach Sven-Goran Eriksson in 1998, all his hard work finally paid off. He had won his first Supercoppa in the summer of his arrival when the Biancoceleste had defeated the Bianconeri.
With Lazio, he went on to win the 1999 Uefa Cup Winners’ Cup (which was the last edition of this cup), the Uefa Super Cup in 1999, and helped the club win its second Scudetto in 1999-2000. His last trophy came in 2004, winning a Coppa Italia against Juventus. Sinisa had a great career with Lazio, helping the club win many trophies and established himself as a great defender for the Biancoceleste. After 2004, he left the team to finish his career with Internazionale.
Mihajlovic had a very successful playing career and became well known in the game of football. When his playing career came to an end, the Serbian decided to coach right after he retired as a player. It was a new approach to the game and went on to coach Italian teams such as Inter, Milan, Bologna, and the Serbian national team. He was a strong leader who was vocal and has an outspoken presence on the pitch. The coach would, at times, run into controversy as his political views would get the best of him.
The Serbian’s coaching career has not resulted in any rewards in the form of medals, but he has helped clubs from being relegated. Saving a team from being relegated should not be taken as a consolation prize, because going down to the second division is not pretty at all for any club. This past season, Bologna started the season with Filippo Inzaghi as their coach but midway through the season he was fired and replaced by Sinisa Mihajlovic.
The team was in the relegation zone and needed changes. By making the switch to the coaching position, the Serbian changed the team’s fate and the culture of the team. When the season came to an end in May 2019, Bologna went from relegation to finishing in the top ten in the standings. This achievement brought the team excitement and joy which was a new attitude that was missing. The before and after results of Bologna displayed Sinisa’s true character.
Sinisa Mihajlovic is someone who is a fighter. When it was announced today about his unfortunate circumstance, it was obvious that this would be his next match. Bologna had announced that he would be the coach of the team while he fights the disease. In his press conference he quoted, “Unfortunately, nothing was given to me in life. I had to fight for everything. I’ll fight this too.” These are strong and powerful words of someone who keeps going and will always find a way to win. Throughout his life nothing ever came easy to the Serbian. He always displayed hard work, determination and the will power to achieve.
Let’s take the time to step out of the football world and remember these people are still human beings who live a life such as ours. We get too caught up into the game and tend to forget that there are things that are greater than the game of football. The greater thing is that Leukemia will not take down the Serbian but this type of cancer will just be another victim of defeat from the Bologna coach.
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