Francesco Acerbi has spoken out following the controversy surrounding his reaction to Milan’s late winner against Lazio.
The 34-year-old Italian centre back was seen grinning manically following Sandro Tonali’s 92nd minute strike, infuriating the Biancocelesti faithful, who have completely lost faith in the former Sassuolo and Chievo centre back. His departure in the summer seems all but certain now.
The Milan game was a blender of emotions and frustrations for everyone and so, after an initial reaction dictated by instinct, I decided to take 48 hours to reflect and find the right words to share my thoughts and feelings, with an open heart. I do not expect them to be shared, but I hope that they will at least be heard and understood.
Unfortunately, for some months now I have been experiencing a situation on a personal level that I never expected to experience. I feel a sense of loneliness that hurts me on a human level.
I don’t mean to point the finger at anyone: it’s a personal feeling of mine that certainly can’t leave me indifferent, on and off the pitch. But in a difficult moment, my family gives me balance and serenity to face everything with my head held high.
The commonplace about footballers is that our work and our earnings make us immune to the emotional states, positive and negative, that characterise the normality of a human being.
That’s why we tend to judge footballers as being devoid of emotions and feelings, which in our work are very strong and conflicting. We often make mistakes ourselves, we are human beings, it is right to always remember that.
I’ve never shirked my duties and responsibilities because I’m a man and a family man, even more than a footballer. That’s why I have always accepted the burdens and honours of my job, well aware that criticism for performance on the pitch is part of the game.
What I can’t accept are the insinuations about my personal and professional integrity, my seriousness and my commitment to defend Lazio colours, with or without the captain’s armband.
After the Milan game I read and heard absurd insinuations that I cannot and will not accept. And the mere fact that I’m here to defend my integrity and professionalism hurts me deeply.
I’m not perfect, I’m not a robot, but I’m a serious person and a loyal footballer. And this should not even be discussed.
I won’t forget every single moment of these years at Lazio, where I was a point of reference and I received esteem, affection and support, proudly wearing the captain’s armband. I’ll always carry these memories with me, no criticism or protest can erase everything I’ve received over the years.
Obviously I’m sorry for everything that happened in the past and for the tensions that have arisen in the last period. I have apologised several times for the episodes in which I made some mistakes, due to excessive impulsiveness and lack of focus.
The future, as far as I’m concerned, is the next game in the Lazio shirt, the one I’ve always honoured and worn with pride. I’d like us all to be able to turn the page together, at least to end the season in the best possible way, with dignity and mutual respect.
The 34-year-old Acerbi, who is contracted to Lazio until 2025, seems destined to leave the Roman club at the end of this season following the complete relationship breakdown between player and fans.
Multiple top Italian clubs are interested in picking up the former Sassuolo man, including Juventus, Inter and Milan, and so it’s hard to imagine him staying in Rome for long once the season concludes.
Acerbi has made 32 appearances across all competitions so far this season, for a total of 2717 minutes. In that time, he’s scored three goals and provided two assists.