Just after five o’clock on Saturday afternoon, a gathering crowd of reporters armed with dictaphones and notepads were being pushed out of the emergency room at Pescara’s Santi Spirito hospital. Whilst out of reach, they still had a sense of what was happening. Screams and anguished cries could be heard as security struggled to keep the reporters out – Livorno’s players had just been told that their colleague, teammate and friend Piermario Morosini had died.
That footage of this horrific episode was on La Repubblica’s website within minutes of occurrence, sitting alongside countless videos and images of his earlier on-pitch collapse and the medical staff’s unsuccessful attempts to revive him at the Stadio Adriatico. It felt invasive and insensitive to a significant and immediate moment of tragedy and grief. At the same time, though, this pure human reaction to the 25-year-old’s lost battle with a suspected heart attack – rumoured to be induced by an aneurysm after an accidental clash of heads with an opponent – perhaps said as much about Morosini’s standing in the game as any of the obituaries and tributes from people in the sport that have since followed.
Beyond his tragic family history and that to many outside of Italy he will most likely be remembered only for this end to his life, he was loved by everyone that had known him, simply for the person that he was. From pictures on his Twitter account to stories of how he was in training and the dressing room, Morosini was a man who read life for its people and its opportunity, not for its fate that had tested him previous.
“He had been in teams all over Italy, but he always came back to us to help organise a summer training camp for the kids and to participate in the football tournaments,” remembers local Bergamo priest Remo Luiselli. “I recall the many tragedies of his life, but he remained a young man open and available to all.” Native to the Lombardy town, Morosini still had a house in Bergamo – just a 10-minute walk from Atalanta’s ground – and had managed to stay close to his local church and its community, even as his career took him on to Udinese in 2005, where he befriended the likes of Antonio Di Natale.
“I lost my mother four years ago and he, who had already lost his, and I were very close,” reflected the Zebrette captain on Sky Italia. Morosini spent seven years of his career with the Udine outfit and even if predominantly out on loan at a different club every season, he has seemingly left an impression for his personality and professionalism. “For me, he was like a brother. He had a love for life, for himself, for his family that hadn’t the most and for his sister.”
Di Natale’s assertion of this close relationship with the footballer is matched with similar and countless declarations from players throughout the peninsula, who at one stage or another encountered the much-travelled Morosini. The prospective deep-lying midfielder, who Delio Rossi remembers as ‘a great guy and a good player with good tactical ideas’ from their time together at Atalanta, made his Serie A debut for Udinese in October 2005, before going on to have loan spells away with Bologna, Vicenza, Reggina and Padova before ending up at Livorno this January. The player also represented Italy through the various youth levels up to and including the Under-21s, for who he was a squad member at the European Championships of 2009.
Such sporadic movement during his club career is perhaps one reason why Morosini hadn’t become the latest Atalanta youth product to break into Serie A quite as midfield primavera teammate Riccardo Montolivo had. However, his ability to have made the most of every opportunity to make a new friend in the sport is such that, whilst the game of calcio may not have lost one of its headline-makers on April 14, 2012, such was Morosini’s impact on the many that met him, it has lost someone it will never forget.