MILAN (Reuters) – Bologna coach Sinisa Mihajlovic said on Saturday that he had a severe form of leukaemia but that he was sure he would win the battle.
Mihajlovic said in a news conference at the Serie A team’s headquarters that his condition was treatable and that he would be in hospital from Tuesday.
“I always play to win, both in football and in life. I’ll defeat Leukaemia,” the former Lazio and Inter Milan defender said, holding back tears.
“It will take time but I’ll recover,” he added.
Rumours about his health had spread over the past days as he did not join his team on a pre-season retreat, which started earlier this week in a Dolomites resort in north-east Italy.
“I have cried a lot on these days, but I don’t like it when someone comes and pities me,” Mihajlovic said.
Bologna’s General Manager Walter Sabatini said that Mihajlovic would remain the team’s coach, “whatever happens in the coming days”.
Serbian Mihajlovic, who was famous for scoring spectacular free kicks as a player, took over as Bologna coach last January, helping the team recover from the threat of relegation to finish 10th in the table.
A European Cup winner with Red Star Belgrade in 1991 and a Cup Winners’ Cup winner with Lazio in 1999, he also won two Serie A titles and four Italian cups with Lazio and Inter Milan.
As a coach, he has lead several Italian teams including Sampdoria, AC Milan and Fiorentina, as well as the Serbia national team between 2012 and 2013.
(Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari; Editing by Toby Davis)