Atalanta and Slovenia star Josip Ilicic confessed his mystery illness “changed me. I realised football isn’t everything in life.”
It has never been entirely clarified what he was suffering from over the summer, but it was reportedly a bacterial infection of the lymph nodes.
He was in and out of hospital, on various drips and antibiotics until the right treatment was found.
“In those two months on antibiotics, I realised football isn’t everything in life,” Ilicic told the official Atalanta website.
“At times people get angry over nothing, but that illness changed me. I didn’t even want to watch the games. My family, teammates and the Coach stood by me, then once I recovered, it was an issue of finding match fitness.”
He certainly made his mark on Chievo, scoring a hat-trick in the 5-1 victory.
“The goals were unexpected, but sometimes the small things can make all the difference for a striker. We have to play with a smile, that’s the most important thing.”