Sinisa Mihajlovic, Sven Goran Eriksson: “It hurts so much…”

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Mentor and former Swedish coach Sven Goran Eriksson: “I have a thousand memories, I thought he still won…”

Sven-Goran Eriksson recalled in an interview with Corriere della Sera Sinisa Mihajlovic, whom he coached in his Lazio days. The Serbian coach died Friday at age 53 from leukemia. “I have a hundred, a thousand, infinite memories. What pain, what sorrow. The last time I heard from him? When he said, I have sickness again. I called him right away. I thought I had to encourage a friend, I had prepared some useful phrases. How do you say? Circumstantial. But no, it was the usual Sinisa. I could hear his confident voice. He knew well what he was risking, he knew the disease was terrible. But he had no doubts. I will fight this one too. I’ll win this one too, it’s tough, but you know how I am, mister.”

“He was a champion. Inside, but also off the field. You know, that Lazio was swollen with talent, quality people, with very strong personalities. And then there were Serbs, Croatians. It’s a moment it can all get out of hand. Sinisa, however, always played for the team, to win. He always wanted to win. And to achieve victory he sacrificed so much. A warrior. I remember endless trainings, I remember his punishments….”

“But he was not only strong for goals. Do you know what it means to have a central defender with that foot? He changes your games in an instant. And he read tactics better than others. With a 60-meter throw, zac, counterattack and you’d score. And then always among the first to arrive at training camp. No, I can’t believe he’s gone. He wanted young people to learn how to kick well. He didn’t keep the secrets of his class to himself. He was teaching. Even to the goalkeepers.”

“Can you imagine? At 53 years old he could still have done so many things,” Eriksson continued. “The world of soccer could have been enriched for 15-20 more years. What a great pain to lose him. It hurts, it really hurts. I didn’t think. I thought he would still win. Because he always wanted to win. In practice, in games, in life. Always. But never by deception, never by passing over others. A true champion. I know, these are obvious phrases, but Sinisa was just like that. What more can I say? A leader, a champion a great man, a friend.”

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