Federico Balzaretti broke his silence this morning, shedding light on the injury that has kept him sidelined for the past 10 months, his stop and start rehabilitation process, and the future of his footballing career. Balzaretti, as you may remember, came to Roma fresh off his surprise performance for Italy at Euro 2012, finally giving the Giallorossi an experienced figure at left back.
Balzaretti was a steady presence for Roma from nearly day one, making 24 starts during Roma's ill-fated 2012-2013 campaign, tallying one assist and completing nearly 89% of his passes. Despite the regime change heading into last season, Balzaretti was ever present in Rudi Garcia's XI, starting nearly everyone of Roma's record breaking 10 straight wins to start the 2013-2014 season.
But, as Balzaretti explains, something went amiss during last November's home match against Sassuolo:
The issue came up around 10 months ago - I felt pain in my pelvis after the Torino game. As I'd never experienced anything like that, I just thought the pain would pass and I played the following game against Sassuolo. At the end of the match I had to stop and we noticed the injury to my pelvis.
While the club is notoriously tight lipped about injury specifics, sending Balzaretti to the U.S. for a corrective surgery seemed to indicate that it was somewhat serious. Unfortunately for Balza, neither doctors in the U.S. or Germany were able find a solution.
We tried an operation in the US but it didn't produce great results. Then we tried a number of other things in Germany. This injury prevents me from doing even the most basic things on the field - every time I kick the ball it flares up
Balzaretti is ardent in his desire to continue rehabbing this injury, but readily admits that the months of rehab remaining and the persistent nature of the injury may spell the end of his days as a professional:
I want to be honest with the fans, just as I have been with my team-mates - sadly I still have months of rehab ahead of me. Sadly, this pain might end my career, but I want to say that I'll do everything I can to get back out there. I still feel like a footballer and I will try to get over this injury. I feel bad for my team-mates, I feel guilty and I would like to be able to experience the highs and lows with them.
Lastly, Balzaretti spoke to the support he's received from the club:
I want to thank the doctors and club because I've never gone without - Roma is a family that have supported me in every area. I still have a lot of faith, I really believe in what I can do and I have a wonderful family around me...The club has always been with me: the Giallorossi are a big family and treat you not as footballers, but as people. You notice a family when they help a player who's not healthy- this is something that marks Roma out from the rest
If this indeed the end of Balzaretti's 15-year-professional career, he leaves the pitch with nearly 400 appearances and six career goals. Of course, as Roma fans, this is the one we'll remember most.
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Balzaretti was always a well-liked player and he really seems to "get it", to understand why playing Roma is special, so let's hope that his career ends under better circumstances, ones which he is able to control.