Last week Bernd Fisa, a member of FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter’s personal staff, visited Stefano Borgonovo to pass on the FIFA President’s best wishes to the former Fiorentina and AC Milan striker.
Fisa, who has been involved with Borgonovo’s foundation for the last two years, presented the Italian with a personal and private gift from the President: the German and English translations of Borgonovo’s book ‘Born striker’.
The translations were commissioned by FIFA as a contribution to the Stefano Borgonovo Foundation. The first editions of his extraordinary autobiography, which until now had only been available in Italian, were completed in time for the kick-off of the Stefano Borgonovo Tournament. On 2-3 June over 300 youngsters from all over Europe will travel to the competition in Borgonovo’s home town of Guissano, near Milan.
In ‘Born striker’, a powerful life message is revealed through the cherished memories of his time as a footballer, as well as the brave reflections on his present situation as a prisoner inside his own body.
One the one hand we are presented with the devastating disease ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), which gradually paralyses the body, leaving just his spirit alive. On the other, we see a footballer with a career spent in the Serie A spotlight, teaming up with the legendary Roberto Baggio, but who is now unable to run.
Borgonovo has suffered with ALS since 2006, a disease which kills nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain. Borgonovo is only able to moves his eyes, which he uses to control a computer. It is his last means of communication to the outside world and it was in this manner that he was able to dictate his book.
In 2008 the father of four made his illness known to the public and founded the Stefano Borgonovo Foundation at the same time, an institution which raises money for ALS research.
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter has been aware of Borgonovo's illness and his irrepressible willpower for some time. He met Borgonovo’s wife Chantal and daughter Alessandra at the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala in January and launched a worldwide research project under the guidance of FIFA Chief Medical Officer Professor Jiri Dvorak. Borgonovo’s autobiography has played a crucial role in bringing the largely unchartered disease to the fore, not only for FIFA, but especially for the Stefano Borgonovo Foundation and its advisory board.
“Stefano has all my sympathy and my support,” said Blatter. “He never gives up and doesn’t wallow in self-pity. Stefano is a fighter, both when he was a player and even more so today. Despite his illness he continues to love football. He is one of a kind and a role model for us all.”
The FIFA President has pledged his support for the forthcoming tournament: “My office will help in any way they can in order to make the event a success and to give all the children involved an unforgettable experience.”
During his career Borgonovo played for Fiorentina and AC Milan, winning the European Cup in 1990, and making three appearances for the Italian national side.