Sinisa Mihajlovic insists he ‘would’ve died’ if he hadn’t been able to take a break from leukaemia treatment to sit on the Bologna bench last summer.
The coach was diagnosed with leukaemia in July 2019 and was only able to communicate with his squad and staff during pre-season via phone or videolink from his hospital room.
After chemotherapy, his condition stabilised enough that his doctors allowed him a fervent wish – to attend Bologna’s first Serie A game of the 2019-20 season at the Stadio Bentegodi.
“If that day, August 25 and the Hellas Verona game, I hadn’t been there, I would’ve died,” Mihajlovic told TG1.
“Even if I was so weak, I had to show strength and the fact I was a person fighting back. I will always thank whoever donated their bone marrow. I don’t even know who they are, but they saved my life.”
The Serbian was forced to miss much of pre-season this year too, as he contracted COVID-19, but was largely asymptomatic.
“When you’ve been through leukaemia, it’s frankly difficult to be frightened anymore. It’s like going through war, what can possibly scare you after that?
“If I had contracted COVID in February or March, when I was immuno-depressed, then that could’ve been really dangerous, but I have now fully recovered.”
He’ll get to meet up with Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Monday evening, when Bologna visit Milan at San Siro.
“I’ll see my friend Ibra, but hopefully it’ll be better than last time, when we got five slaps in the face…”
When these sides last played on July 18, Bologna were beaten 5-1.