It was 25 years ago today that Genoa and Juventus left-back Andrea Fortunato died from leukaemia, at the age of 23, and friend Fabrizio Ravanelli pays tribute.
An Italy international with one senior cap, earned in September 1993 against Estonia, he was born in Salerno and started his playing career with Como.
Moving on to Pisa in 1991, he spent one season at Genoa and transferred to Juventus in the summer of 1993.
Something seemed to be wrong in training and the 23-year-old felt strangely weak.
Tests found he was suffering from acute leukaemia and underwent a bone marrow transplant.
Just as he seemed to be recovering and even managed to attend a game in the stands, Fortunato’s weakened immune system was unable to deal with a cold.
He died on April 25, 1995 at the age of 23.
Among his teammates and best friends was Ravanelli, the striker who would go on to huge success at Juventus and Middlesbrough.
“His memory is as indelible in my heart as the pain of losing him,” Ravanelli told JuventusNews24.
“Andrea never gave up, but it was a battle he could not win. He taught me the real values in life and made me stronger. We spent so much time together, not just training, but going to the cinema or just hanging out at home.
“We found out what was wrong after the season had ended. Andrea had been taken ill when at a restaurant the night before, the Juventus directors came and told us he was in hospital, gravely ill. It was a huge shock.”
Ravanelli even loaned Fortunato his house in Perugia to help him through the recovery process.
“Paradoxically, he was the one reassuring me. He was certain that he’d get through it and wouldn’t even consider the idea of defeat. I was unable to go to his funeral, because I was on international duty. I wanted to tell him that I’m sorry I didn’t get to that final goodbye, but I am sure he’d have understood. In fact, I bet he’d have preferred it that way.
“I just want to tell him that he’ll always be in my heart and I will never forget him.”
Image via: juventus.com
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