Atalanta’s topscorer Josip Ilicic has revealed he considered retirement and feared he would die in his sleep after the death of Fiorentina captain and close friend David Astori and sickness.
In the summer of 2018, the striker was down with a condition that confined him to the hospital bed hooked on a drip. The sickness left him in a confused state of mind when all he wanted was just to be able to ‘walk like a normal human’ and probably just forget football altogether.
He was suffering from lymphadenitis, an inflation of the lymph nodes around his neck, which was caused by a bacterial infection, and doctors had said his recovery was not going to be a straight road.
He was on hospital appointment for two months in and out with various prescriptions and antibiotics as the doctors tried to treat his ailment, but the Slovenian had feared the worse could happen to him any moment.
He confessed that his mind would more often than not wander to uncertainty and couldn’t see a future where he was still a football player.
Unfortunately, his issue became worse when the death of Davide Astori his friend and former teammate at Fiorentina, who passed on in his sleep after a cardiac arrest just some months earlier, and it was still an incident Ilicic couldn’t mentally overcome due to their closeness.
while speaking to Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport he said
“What happened to Davide Astori was in my mind for days,
‘I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking about it, when I was ill this summer I really thought it could happen to me too. I was afraid.
‘I thought: “If I don’t wake up tomorrow morning? If I never see my family again?”. There was a period where I was afraid of going to bed and falling asleep, just a few weeks and months ago.
“There are people with the same problem who ended up in a coma. With me the infection remained in my lymph nodes, with others it spread. If I think about it… let’s just say I looked at things other than football.”
Those ‘things’ were his wife, Tina, and their two young daughters. Recovering from the illness was about far more than pulling on an Atalanta shirt again.
‘I do my work on the pitch and then I come home to see my loved ones, and I always want them by my side. Life is short,’ he said after returning to action.
‘I’m stronger mentally now, something has changed there. Before I got angry at silly things, now I live better.
‘I stopped watching football and matches on TV, I only thought about my family and recovering.’