Massimo Maccarone said goodbye to Empoli following their relegation, but with a bitter note. “I went from hero to traitor, but some directors can’t handle the pressure.”
The striker turns 38 in September and his contract with the Tuscan club expired yesterday.
It was his second spell at the Stadio Castellani after 2000-02, returning in January 2012.
“I know that many did not understand my silence, but it was the final act of duty and obedience I felt that I owed to this club, being under contract to June 30,” wrote Maccarone in an open letter.
“Thank you to those who always supported and showed their affection, above all in the difficult moments… Over 100 goals are not enough to describe the emotions and indelible memories that I experienced with this jersey.
“Empoli! My adopted home town, where I grew up as a player and a man, and where above all I chose to buy my house, where I started a family and laid the foundations for my future.
“I am proud of the choice I made five years ago, when in 2012 I opted for Empoli among the many offers on my table. It was a choice made not without difficulties and against the desires of those who were looking after my interests.
“In these five years we celebrated and suffered together, from safety in Serie B to my return, going through fantastic years in Serie A until, unfortunately, the debacle of May 28 in Palermo.
“In football we win and lose together, but I am captain and as a ‘leader’ has to do, I take the responsibility for this year that started badly and ended worse.
“It was an anomalous season, one in which bad luck added to difficulties, such as in the final match that in some way represented a switch in my life. It only takes a few seconds, the time to take a shot or misjudge a situation, and it can become decisive.
“From that point on, in my silence, I read and heard everything about me. In the time it takes to shoot at goal you go from hero to ‘the traitor,’ a problem to be resolved or eliminated. You have to face a different future to the one you planned, starting from this letter, which really isn’t my style…
“I accepted the push to revolutionise the side for the good of Empoli. In my view, it would’ve been even more effective if this had started from the directors rather than those on the field (with many members of staff sent home), removing those figures who were unable to stand the responsibilities and pressure that a big club like Empoli requires, especially in difficult moments.
“I will carry Empoli in my heart and its fans everywhere I go. I would’ve liked to embrace you one by one to thank you, for making me feel at home and like one of you.
“I wanted to celebrate my last game at the Castellani with all of you, with a pint of beer in hand like in Bologna.”
This referred to an incident at the Stadio Dall’Ara when Maccarone had friends on the touchline drinking beer and celebrated his goal by running over to take a sip.
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