Tragic life ends on the field
Rome: Piermario Morosini died on Saturday after suffering a heart attack while playing for Livorno against Pescara in the Italian second division — a sad, premature end to a life already scarred by family tragedy.
The 25-year-old was given heart-massage on the pitch before being taken by ambulance to the Santo Spirito hospital in Pescara. Hospital staff failed to revive him and he was pronounced dead shortly.
It was only then that the true horror of this relatively unknown midfielder's tragic family story emerged. Born in Bergamo, Morosini was orphaned in his teenage years as his mother Camilla died in 2001, when he was only 15, and, two years later, his father Aldo also passed away.
Shortly afterwards his disabled brother committed suicide, and now only his handicapped older sister remains.
It's a story that left his former teammate at Udinese, Roberto Baronio, stunned.
"It's an incredible destiny, now he can embrace all his family," he said.
It was a sad end to a once bright young career that saw Morosini represent Italy at every level from under-17s to under-21s.
He even played for his country at the European under-21 Championships in Sweden in 2009.
His top flight career never really took off despite making his debut for Udinese at the age of 19. He played five times in Serie A, three times in the Italian Cup and also made a UEFA Cup appearance in 2005/06.
But thereafter, he went out on loan to one club after another, at times part-owned by Udinese and another club, but never able to come back and establish himself in the Italian top flight.
He began this season back at Udinese, but failed to make an appearance before heading to Livorno on loan at the end of the January transfer window.
He played for six clubs during his short career, testament to a character who was determined to succeed, not just for himself but also for the memory of his family.
"These are things that leave an impression on you and change your life," he said in 2005.
"But at the same time it fills you with anger and helps you to always give everything to achieve what was also my parents' dream.
He added in an interview: "I would like to become a professional footballer mainly for them because I know how much it would make them happy and for that I know that I have extra motivation."
Although Morosini said it gave him added stimulus, his coach in the Atalanta youth team, Mino Favini, remembered an "incredibly gentle" young man with "a sad face".
"I thought that life had already tested him too much, but instead this last tragedy has happened," said Favini.
"Mario was very unlucky, but despite this he was always there for his teammates. There was never the slightest problem in the medical tests he took. We're obliged to make annual controls and verifications and he never had a problem."
Even so, on Saturday he was the latest footballer to die on the pitch following the likes of former Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe and ex-Spain defender Antonio Puerta.
The news even moved Fifa president Sepp Blatter to post his condolences on his official Twitter page.
"The tragedy that has affected everyone that loved him has brought great pain to everyone who loves football," said Blatter.
"Without being able to be physically close to those close to him I want to underline that my thoughts are with them."