Juventus midfielder Federico Bernardeschi have revealed that his career was nearly cut short at the age of just 16, after being diagnosed with an enlarged heart.
The Italy international joined I Bianconeri last season, after impressing during a three year spell at Fiorentina. Famed for his versatility and flawless technique, the midfielder was snapped up by Juve for €40m in 2017, where he played an important role in the side winning their seventh consecutive Serie A title last season.
Writing for the Players Tribune, the 24-year-old discussed the moment his career almost ended prematurely: "When I was 16, I was closing in on making the senior team with Fiorentina. I was playing some of the best football of my life. But during a routine physical checkup the medical team found something was wrong."
"A few days later, I went to see the doctor with my mum. There were some tests. Some X-rays. A few minutes later the doctor briefed us. 'Federico, it looks like there’s an issue.' I thought, 'I’m 16. I’m in the best shape of my life. There’s no issue.' 'You have an enlarged heart. We’re not sure how bad it is. It’s possible you won’t be able to continue your football career.'
'Possible? No...that’s impossible.' I couldn’t believe it. I refused to hear it. My mother kept me calm. 'We need to monitor it closely these next few weeks,' the doctor said. 'And in the meantime, you won’t be able to play football for six months.' I knew I was at a critical stage of development for my career. I couldn’t afford to miss time like that.
"It was a terrible, terrible day. I was living alone in Florence, 16 years old, and I had nothing to do. My parents had to work in Carrara, so they visited when they could…but still. I tried to keep myself busy, but it was the most difficult six months of my life. Time passed. Countless check-ups, specialist visits and meetings happened, and, eventually, with some dietary changes and a medicine, I overcame the issue."
In other news, Juve talisman Cristiano Ronaldo is set to attend court in Madrid on Tuesday, where he will face charges of tax evasion. The former Real Madrid man is likely to plead guilty to the charges, but is highly unlikely to face any prison time as Spanish law dictates that first-time offenders with sentences under two years can serve them under probation.