This past weekend, football was secondary. Seeing 25 year-old Livorno midfielder Piermario Morosini collapse on the pitch put everything in perspective once again for the football world just weeks after Fabrice Muamba’s similar heart attack on the field against Tottenham. Only on Saturday, Morosini wasn’t as lucky and died en route to the hospital. And yet amid the shock and grief, something miraculous happened on the other side of the globe providing a small ray of light on such a dark weekend.
In the small Paraguayan city of Itauguá, 850 spectators witnessed the unthinkable. Salvador Cabanas trotted out of the tunnel triumphantly onto the pitch for the first time in over two years.
Back in January 2010, Cabanas was partying at a nightclub in Mexico City with some friends. After an altercation, Cabanas made his way to the bathroom where he was confronted and shot in the head. Somehow he avoided death by just an inch. Two years on after an unimaginable recovery process Cabanas returned (the bullet is still lodged in his head since removal would prove fatal).
Substituted after 41 minutes for his hometown Third Division club 12 de Octubre, the Paraguayan displayed a fighting spirit and unwavering determination which aptly characterized the former Paraguayan captain who had come so far in his battle for survival. Despite the sparse crowd, the magnitude of the moment was not lost on the entire country and region.
The world will mourn the untimely loss of Morosini and try to make sense of this terrible tragedy. But we must not lose sight of these two incredible developments – Cabanas and Muamba (just released from the hospital) stared death in the face and said no. They are with us today and hopefully for many years to come.
Photo courtesy of goal.com