MILAN/AMSTERDAM: If Stefano Borgonovo was still alive today he would describe himself as the happiest man on earth. Not just because he would finally come to know the man he admired when he was a kid, but also because the idol of his childhood is going to open up a Cruyff Court in the town where Borgonovo celebrated his first triumphs as a professional player.
November 10th is going to be a very special day for the Stefano Borgonovo Foundation. The No14 of the Netherlands and playmaker of Ajax and Barcelona of the 1970s and 1980s will be in Como to inaugurate the first Cruyff Court in Italy, which will be dedicated to Stefano. This has been agreed by the Borgonovo and the Cruyff Foundations and supported by UEFA and FIFA
One and a half year ago, former Milan and Fiorentina striker Stefano Borgonovo, (its decisive goal in 1990 against Bayern led AC Milan to qualify for the Final of the European Cup, then won against Benfica) died aged 49 after an eight-year battle against Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“A dream comes true”, says Stefano’s widow, Chantal. “My husband admired Johan Cruyff enough to dedicate him a chapter of his book “Attaccante Nato”. Even Stefano’s football school has the orange colour in its emblem as a tribute to Cruyff. He would have loved to know Johan personally. I am extremely happy and grateful to Johan because, thanks to the opening of the Cruyff Court in Como, the spirit of Stefano will be even stronger with us.”
“A dream comes true”, says his wife Chantal. “My husband went crazy for Johan Cruyff. He admired him so much that he dedicated him a chapter of his autobiography. Even Stefano’s football school has the orange colour in its emblem as a tribute to Cruyff. He would have loved to know Johan personally. I am extremely happy and grateful to Johan because, thanks to the opening of the Cruyff Court in Como, the spirit of Stefano will be even stronger with us.”
A Cruyff Court is more than just a football pitch. A Cruyff Court is a place where children learn all about respect, responsibility and integration through sports. They learn to cooperate, to make friends, to stand up for themselves and for others and to win and lose. These experiences are essential throughout the rest of their lives. Today, there are more than a 190 Cruyff Courts all over the globe.
More information on Stefano Borgonovo Foundation www.
Yvonne Guigard (Borgonovo Foundation)
More information on Johan Cruyff Foundation www.cruyff-foundation.org
Bernadette van Bendegom (Cruyff Foundation)
Extract of Stefano Borgonovo’s autobiography “Born Striker” (“Attaccante Nato”)
I was, in fact, Johan Cruyff, and the Giussano parish youth club was the stadium of my dreams. I dribbled with everyone. I played all the time, football was my only commandment. Hands joined in prayer with the ball at my feet, I was a Juventus fan and on a one-track-minded journey, as long as at the end of that track there were to be goal posts with a goalkeeper between them. I had been programmed to get precisely to that point.
Before a game started I confessed, to the priests but especially to my fellow players: “I am Cruyff”. That was not considered a major sin, especially for the players in my team. I ran, I marked and I loved it. My parents had a stall in themarket, and I had a permanent place on the field. It was my home. Como, Inter, Torino and Milan wanted me because I could never keep still, and even they had understood who I was: a striker who had escaped from table football.
I breathed. Breathing was great. My lungs were taking it all in because at that age you gulp down everything indiscriminately, just as it comes: air, smog, hopes, disappointments and dreams, and nothing ever seems to harm you. You are living without knowing you are alive, you are busy learning the rules of a game bigger than you are. I was Cruyff, and that made me happy. Every so often I told the children at the football school that it’s a responsibility to feel like one of the greats, but it sometimes does you good. It helps you understand where the line is, to escape for a moment, to draw a breath as long as you can.
I have played for the Como, Sambenedetta, Milan, Fiorentina, Pescara, Udinese and Brescia clubs and perhaps I never finished growing up, and what’s so wrong with that?
I have remained able to express my emotions, even if less visibly now. Everything is much more intimate: the perspective has changed, I am less alone yet more solitary now. Like in those eternal card games with your computer, one playing against the other. Whichever side can predict the other’s moves wins. In my case with one substantial difference, which saves my life: the computer is playing on my side. 24/7. We are not opponents, it thinks and I attack, because I have not lost my will to live. Because I am Cruyff.
With kind regards,
Bernadette van Bendegom
Not present on Fridays
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