Former Fiorentina and Roma striker told Fifa he still struggles to walk — but it’s huge improvement on where he was in 2014
GABRIEL BATISTUTA was one of the greatest strikers of all-time, but his efforts on the pitch have taken a serious toll on life after football.
The Fiorentina and Argentina legend now struggles to walk due to the chronic pain in his knees.
Yet, remarkably, that is a massive improvement on the agony he was suffering three years ago when he begged doctors to AMPUTATE his legs.
It was often claimed he didn’t actually like football and only played it because he was good at it — but Batistuta claims that was a misunderstanding and insists the pain he suffers now shows how much it meant to him.
Speaking to Fifa’s official website, he clarified: “I did say it, but I was trying to protect myself against the press and the public.
“I said it so they’d stop asking me things.
“You have to remember I was playing in Italy in the good times.
“There was a lot of pressure and everyone talked about football all the time, which I found pretty boring.
“It goes without saying that I love the game, the tactics, the training and everything that happens on the pitch.
“I wasn’t that excited about football when I was young, but it did become my passion.
“I ended up living and breathing football.
“Now, I have difficulty walking because of it, because I gave more than I had to give.”
But that pain is nothing compared to the sheer agony Batistuta was feeling around three years ago.
The 2001 Serie A title-winner revealed it was so severe, he could not make it to the bathroom and was forced to wet the bed.
Speaking in 2014, he said: “I left football and overnight I couldn’t walk.
“I wet the bed even though the bathroom was only three metres away.
“It was 4am and I knew if I stood my ankle would kill me.
“I went to see Doctor Avanzi [an Orthopaedic specialist] and told him to cut off my legs.
“He looked at me and told me I was crazy.
“I couldn’t bear it any longer.
“I can’t put in to words just how bad the pain was.
“I looked at Oscar Pistorius and said: ‘That’s my solution.’”
Batistuta was loyal to Fiorentina throughout the 1990s, rejecting a move to the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United — even sticking with the club when they were relegated.
However, he was forced to leave when La Viola needed money from his sale, and he joined Roma in 2000, where he won a first league title in Italy.
The hitman was part of two Copa America triumphs for Argentina, in 1991 and 1993 — as well as the successful 1992 Confederations Cup campaign.
He is the only player to score hat-tricks at two different World Cups — 1994 and 1998 — and saw his international goal scoring record beaten by Lionel Messi this summer.
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