A salute to the Italian footballing family

Kakha Kaladze and Gianluca Pessotto’s good news gives football perspective

In a month when football made the news for the wrong reasons, a change of fortune for two Serie A stars should be toasted

Kakha Kaladze has played the majority of his career at Milan with the uncertainty of the fate of his kidnapped brother looming over him. Photograph: Alessandro Garofalo/Reuters

Never, perhaps, has the relationship between footballers and the paying public been so strained. For all the adoration and remuneration, the flip side sees players struggle to maintain a normal rapport with more ordinary mortals. So, at the end of a month in which David Beckham was lured into a flare-up with a punter in the stands, Steven Gerrard was cleared of affray charges after an altercation in a nightclub, and Newcastle were Newcastle, it does no harm to touch upon a couple of football stories that did not get a huge amount of publicity over the same period, but sure as hell deserved some.

One of Beckham’s former team-mates during his sojourn at Milan is the solid Georgian defender Kakha Kaladze; a man who has spent virtually his entire career under the kind of personal pressure that must have been, at times, intolerable. In 2001 his brother Levan, a medical student back home in Tbilisi, was kidnapped. The family’s ordeal lasted five years, during which Levan’s fate was unknown, save for a video of him blindfolded and begging for help.

They got little help from the Georgian authorities, who refuse to negotiate with gangsters. So desperate were they for resolution that at one stage Kaladze considered taking up Ukrainian citizenship, and his father threatened to set fire to himself outside a government building. Eventually, Levan’s body was found and the family could at least begin to grieve.

And all the while Kaladze has played football for one of the biggest clubs in the world in as dignified and professional a manner as he could. In the middle of this July, while Milan have been fending off some of the flak that has accompanied the departure of Kaka, the travails of trying to strengthen the team while tightening the purse strings, and life under a new but inexperienced manager, some brilliant news arrived at the club.

Kaladze’s wife gave birth to a son. They named him Levan. “I’m the happiest man in the world,” Kaladze announced. “It was a huge satisfaction, I think only those who have experienced something like this can understand what kind of sensations you feel because it’s hard to explain in words. A lot of emotion anyway. After a difficult period now I’m having a good one. I want to thank all those who stayed close to me: the Milan fans, the club who helped me a lot, my team-mates, because their support was very important to me.”

Over at Juventus, happier times have also arrived for another stricken star of Serie A, Gianluca Pessotto. The ex-midfielder, whose career with the Turin club lasted for over a decade of service, famously suffered a breakdown during the 2006 World Cup. Naturally it devastated the team who went on to win the tournament to learn that a friend of so many of them, and former member of the Azzurri, appeared to have thrown himself from a second-floor window of the Juventus offices with a rosary in his hands. He had multiple fractures and was so gravely ill Alessandro Del Piero, Gianluca Zambrotta and Ciro Ferrara immediately left the training camp to fly back to Italy to spend time at his hospital bedside.

Like Kaladze, the support of his club has helped him to rebuild his life. As soon as he had recovered Pessotto was quickly re-integrated into the Juventus family, and had been working as team manager, a desk job that kept him busy and contented enough. But his career has recently taken a change of direction and he is now working back in the thick of it in the youth development department that has begun to bear fruit for Juve. He is ever so pleased.

Pessotto had found the transition from footballer to ex-footballer very hard to bear. To use his words, it was “a delicate road”. But now he feels more inspired and closer to the team life he was so anxious about leaving behind. “The role of team manager which I did for two and a half years allowed me to bridge the gap between working on and off the pitch more smoothly,” he explains. “Working with the youngsters represents the second stage of realising the dream. I hope to transmit experience and above all passion. But it will be a reciprocal thing. They will give me enthusiasm, dreams and emotions.”

To the brighter futures of Gianluca Pessotto and young Levan Kaladze: Salute!



:clap: indeed.

I had forgotten all about Pessotto’s story. He was an excellent player. Right back, left back, right wing, left wing even centre mid. Mjor part of Lippi’s Juventus in mid to late 90s. What a team that was.

Great stuff. Ah lovely. :clap:

And then you consider the Justin Fashanu story in England…http://www.smileyshut.com/Yahoo-Smileys/emoticons7/112.gif

Hardly comparable.

The Dave Langan story would be more apt

Crown sympathiser.

Aye, fair enough there.


[quote=“myboyblue”]Crown sympathiser.