Bologna captain Blerim Dzemaili made a promise to Sinisa Mihajlovic after the leukaemia diagnosis and revealed the Coach “is like a father to us.”
The Coach confirmed in a Press conference today that he has leukaemia and will begin treatment on Tuesday, but continue to work – sometimes remotely or through his staff.
“The Coach will win this battle for us too, as we feel like we are his family,” Dzemaili told Sky Sport Italia.
“What he has given us over the last six months has rarely been given by any Coach, especially in such a short space of time. We know what kind of person he is, how strong he is and we’ll try to transmit our strength to him too. We can’t wait until he returns.”
Mihajlovic wanted to break the news to the players first via a video conference call, then players were spotted at the training ground huddling around a tablet to watch the Press conference live.
“His collaborators are part of him and we feel as if the whole management staff were here. We made a promise to the Coach and I particularly want to keep it as captain.
“It was a shock this morning, I’ll be honest, but once we spoke to him, we realised that we’ve got to just continue working like this, because he’ll be with us again very soon.
“Sinisa told us to continue working with a smile on our faces and we’ll try to do exactly as he asks. The Coach showed us the way, we followed him throughout the last six months. He is a leader who can take us to achieve our objectives.
“Of course, nobody expected this to happen, but we are all close to him. Mihajlovic is like a father to us, so we’ll fight for him the way he fights for us.”
Mihajlovic took the job in January with Bologna deep in the relegation zone, but turned it around for a surprising 10th-place Serie A finish.
“There is such passion here and the stadium was always almost full, despite the difficulties we experienced. This shows how much the people of this city care and I am convinced we’ll achieve something great.
“We must each give something more, for the Coach and for ourselves. We’ve got many players with a lot of character.”