Lazio defender Francesco Acerbi discussed his past experiences, his move to the Biancocelesti, his illness and his love for girlfriend Claudia in an interview with Italian broadcaster Lazio Style Channel earlier today, as reported by La Lazio Siamo Noi.
I felt good everywhere, when I look at photos, I go back over what I did in the various experiences. At AC Milan it was my fault, I don’t regret anything, I was wrong, it had nothing to do with the club, which was close to me especially with Galliani. I didn’t have the mind to stay at Milan.
I wanted to perform, I had a lot of motivation, but I also wanted to have fun. I had physical strength, badness, I was better than the others and that was enough to get to Milan. Then my father died, things happened, when I reached that goal, I could only see black.
From there I sat down, with hindsight it’s all my fault. I have solved many ‘whys’, I am happy with how I am and how I have become. The disease made me change, I don’t regret what I could have done more of.
The 32-year-old Italian defender commented on his battle with testicular cancer.
I found out about it during routine medical checkups before a training camp, I was a little shocked, I immediately went for a bike ride. The biggest concern was for my family, my mom especially was a little anxious. In fact, I told her after I had surgery.
Removed the testicle, removed the pain. Then during the doping tests, they told me if I had taken drugs to play, I answered no. I understood that something was still wrong, so from January 2014 I started chemo. Why me?
After the testicle operation I felt nothing, 3 weeks and I was already on the pitch, as if it had been a strain. It had been a ‘simple’ operation. They told me that I would have changed after the chemo.
That’s how it was, slowly a new Francesco was being born inside me, I wanted to play, I had new goals, I wanted to get involved. I didn’t drink anymore, I cut out alcohol, things changed in my head. Everything came by itself.
The former Sassuolo man discussed his catholic faith and beliefs.
I believe in God. Anything else I don’t believe in. I believe someone made me realize things, then whether it’s God or my dead father who loves me from up there, I don’t know.
I pray for God and for those who are gone, or for those who love me. I have to and want to believe that there is someone up there watching over us.
Acerbi spoke about his book, ‘All right – My double victory over cancer’.
Initially I didn’t want to write it, in fact it took multiple times. I had said no, I wanted to mind my own business, why would I publish a book?
I had cancer, stop, end of story. But then I thought that a book could be good for charity and because, being a footballer, I could be a reference for people who are suffering and can’t react to difficulties.
Visiting sick children? I’ve visited so many of them that now they don’t bother me anymor.. Of course, I always feel a bit empty, but I’m used to it. All this makes you remember and understand the difficult moments.
The 32-year-old Italian defender commented on his move to Lazio and feelings regarding the Biancocelesti.
I felt strong emotions. I went to talk to Tare, but Inzaghi called me and asked me: ‘Do you want to come to Lazio? You’re first on the list, I want you!’. I replied, ‘I promise I will come to Lazio.’ It was a battle I had never seen, we were texting each other every day.
I knew I would do well, I was calm, aware of what I could do. For me every day now is a demonstration, in the past I sat down, now this in my head is no longer there. I want to prove to myself more than to others. Then I can play well or badly, but now I know who I am and I always want to improve.
I don’t do it to please, sometimes that happened in the past. Now I do it for me and for those who really love me. I’m very private, I’ve met some shitty people who weren’t honest. Maybe I was a little superficial in the past, I believed in the goodness of people.
This made me change. On my own I realized that I am fine, I know that I don’t fool myself. I met Claudia, she has been an important value for my emotional and football growth.
The former Sassuolo man discussed the Biancocelesti’s Coppa Italia win over Atalanta in the 2018/19 season.
In the league we had achieved less than our chances, against Atalanta I was convinced we could bring it home. I felt it. However, there are games in which I don’t have a positive feeling and so I try to change by doing something or paying more attention.
The victory in the Coppa Italia was well deserved, we had done really well on the way there.
Acerbi spoke about his family and what they mean to him.
My mom Silvia is too important to my life, even though we hardly ever see each other. We talk every day, routine calls. She wants others with me to be happy. She is much stronger than me, she has been through a lot between my father and my stories, we were three children, she always had strength and smiles.
She should be taken as an example. She is sweet and strong. The ‘Lion’ was also a great fool! Family counts a lot, it’s the strongest bond, I believe in it a lot. Few people come to my house, only those I consider appropriate and who deserve it. Family comes first.
They have always been close to me, I don’t know how to thank them, there are no prizes or gifts. When my father died, I was 24 years old, I had a good childhood, not great. With my father I had a very good relationship at the beginning, then not a very good one, I would say normal.
When he passed away, I had played few games in Serie A, from there I had the strong motivation to go to Milan, where he wanted.
When I arrived at the Rossoneri, the world ended for me. My father had always pushed me. When he disappeared, I no longer had the drive and I slowed. On the one hand he helped me get there, on the other hand it wasn’t really what I wanted. I don’t want to take some of his stuff, I think the parent should be a friend too.
He wasn’t totally like that. I was never able to tell him certain things, I was thinking about football and that’s it. When you grow up you find the courage to say these things, but he was a great father.
The Lazio defender touched on how it feels to play for the Italian national team.
It’s always a thrill to represent your country, but only up to a certain point. I want to play, if I play, I’m happier. There are hierarchies there too, I have always respected them, the important thing is to be in the game, then I create my own opportunities.
If you do it constantly sooner or later your chance will come. I’m there and I’m playing with the others. I’m a starter like Giorgio Chiellini, that’s what I wanted and that’s what I’m trying to keep in order to play a World Cup or a European Championship.
It’s not easy, you’re always on the edge, but it’s an extra motivation. I try never to make mistakes. When there is pressure, I like it, of course you can feel it, but you also understand what level you are at. I like to give everything in a football match. It doesn’t have to be different between Italy or Lazio.
He discussed his friendship with Biancocelesti midfielder Marco Parolo.
He’s a great guy, I watch him a lot, he has his head on straight. He has gone from being an unmovable starter to being an important player on and off the field, he has always trained very well and has always been ready.
We often talk to each other. When you feel good in your head and at home you can see the difference, on the field you go there ‘with a cigarette’. I can distinguish between football and my private life, but it’s normal that having an extra sense of serenity at home can give you added value during the matches.
Acerbi spoke about the concept of happiness and what that means to him.
What is that? I think the awareness of doing the best you can, in general. Being honest, humble, having values, giving everything with your head held high. Having an inner serenity, no matter how things go. Then it’s clear that sometimes I get nervous too, I know the character I have, sometimes I’d like to overturn Formello, but I count to 150.
I know myself better thanks to my psychoanalyst and my mental coach. I think you create your own luck. There are things I don’t like about myself, I’m sensitive in life, not on the pitch. For example, in my emotionality with my girlfriend and with the people I love. Way too much. I see that there is a total gap between what I care about and other things.
The 32-year-old Italian defender touched on his goal against Roma in the derby.
They did it to themselves, with all due respect to Roma. I don’t know why, I was there, I gave them a little shoulder, then a goal is always a goal. I thought they would have cancelled it, but they didn’t.
They played a devastating game that day, we defended well but did little in their half of the field. This was the first draw after so many victories, they were very motivated. We were good at staying on our feet.
The Italy defender commented on the Supercoppa Italiana win against Juventus.
The week before we had won 3-1 at home against Juve, it could have been different in the league. In Rihad we wanted to win, we did a lot from a mental point of view, we were not satisfied with the Serie A standings.
Great game, we didn’t want to lose. It was us, the ones who were first last year. We have the players to be in the top three positions, when we’re in good shape there’s nothing for anyone to do. We started off 2-0 every time. We’ve always been given the run-around.
Acerbi discussed his relationship with star striker Ciro Immobile.
Great relationship right away, then from the second year it became great. This year even more so. We give each other a few kisses at lunch as good luck charms, I call him ‘love’ on the field, never Ciro. Once I shouted on the pitch ‘amoreeee’ against Inter, in the national team the Nerazzurri players asked me ‘but who did you call love?’
We have a special relationship, he brings positivity, he cares so much about being here and the Lazio environment, like me and many others. But he has something more, he has to make history, he wants it with all his heart. And I’m trying to give him a hand and some extra energy.
The Lazio defender spoke about his relationship with girlfriend Claudia.
We met at the beach, then we have always been together. Next year we are getting married, I feel that she has given me a serenity and an important happiness, she is the woman of my life and will be forever, with her I have rediscovered total love.
I told her that she is the only one from here to the end, I will not fall in love or be with someone else who will not be her. We are fine, she also has a good character, but I love her a lot.
He moved onto discussing former Sassuolo president Giorgio Squinzi, who sadly passed away last year.
With me he was exceptional, he and his wife. They had great strength, I had many requests to leave Sassuolo, I was almost sorry. I had to save Sassuolo almost out of gratitude, I couldn’t tear myself away from Sassuolo and from Squinzi.
I felt like I was wronging him. I called him to come to Lazio, I never argued with them or raised my voice, I told him that it was time for a change. I asked him to come to me. He understood my needs and let me go, even if he didn’t want to.
Finally, Acerbi spoke about what he will do after his career.
I like to keep in shape, physically and mentally, I will always be on the move. Maybe before quitting I’ll try to be a coach with the various courses.
Let’s see, now I’m thinking about playing football. But I think my address will be to be a coach.