Our very own Cristian Chivu has done an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport. He is in Bucharest convalescing with his wife and daughter while trying to dodge the paparazzi. He is missing his teammates, who send him pictures of chicken breasts with melted cheese (his favorite pre-game dinner) from La Pinetina. What does he want more than anything: "...to run: a simple, trivial run."
It turns out that there is nothing like having your cranium opened to make you appreciate the little things in life - like not being in a coma and still being able to worry about your children. My Italian is not the best (certainly there are much better translators here on this board), but I have done what I could to bring you all his interview in English. For the purist, I have it in the original Italian as well and I would be happy to email it to you.
When you were last in Verona, in the abulance, from the stadim to the operating room: that moment in a flash?
"I did not hear the noise made when my head split. The feeling of fear, yes, immediately: I understood immediately what had happened to me because I felt a hole in my head. I understood that I would have to have an operation and Dr. Comi was great to find the right way to confirm that to me, he explained while he accompanied me to the hospital with sirens."
What does one think in a moment like this?
"You think the worst, what else? 'Cristian, now they will open your head: what if something goes wrong? And Natalina and Adelina [his child and wife], will your life be the same? And will football still be your life?' "
Have you ever lost consciousness?
"Maybe for a second, at most two. I remember the header, not the fall: when I felt 'awake' I was already on the ground. In fact, reviewing the collision I saw that I went down quite limply."
So you have watched it again?
"Yes, I wanted to review everything: on tv, when I was still in the hospital, and then on the internet. I wanted to understand and I realized that the "blame" was mine: when I realized that I would not arrive to get this ball I could have stopped myself, but some things you say to yourself after, not there and then. Pellissier -- he told be this when e came to visit me in the hospital -- saw only a shadow when he was going to jump and it was already too late."
If they had asked you, before the 6th of January: what are you afraid of in life?
"I would have replied: that something would happen to my daughter. On January 6th, I was afraid that I would no longer be able to fear for my daughter."
Would you call it a fear of dying?
"I dont know what it is called, but I know that if you open your head you would also think that you might not wake up."
Chivu thought this for about an hour and a half, from the moment of the collision to when he was anesthetized before the operation. "I dont know how many thing crossed my mind in those moments, but there were many. Still, I think I was a good patient, I managed to stay calm, and I tried to keep my wife calm. I called and told here 'Calm down, I only have a little blood under the skin, now they will take it out and tomorrow evening I will come home.
I knew it was a lie, but I took a picture of myself on the stretcher and sent it to her with my phone. Immediately after the operation was finished I was so elated that I started calling anyone, I wrote text messages in bursts: when the doctors noticed, they took my phone away for two days. The first night in intensive care was a nightmare, they came every hour to wake me up and I was was already waiting for them with my eyes wide open. What is your name? Cristian Chivu. Where are you? In Verona. What is the name of the hospital? How should I know? How did the game end? One to Zero, you all should be telling me! I could even make fun..."
How do you find the strength, in times like these?
In the desire to live a normal life, like before. In the realization that in misfortune, I had the chance to play again. In seeing people around that were much worse than I was. In Verona, in that ward, I was the only one awake: all the other were in comas or in an induced coma. And then to receive so much affection: they called or wrote - hundreds of fans I don know, also everyone I have ever played against, all the coaches I have ever had."
The thing that you miss the most?
"To wake up with the thought that I have to train and prepare for a match, to feel the adrenaline flowing before going onto the pitch. The things of everyday life, home, Pinetina, withdrawal before a game, the stadium: there were moments when it seemed trivial, repetitive, but I found that the real boredom is not to feel that boredom."
When did you ask the doctors when it would be alright for you to start playing again?
"Immediately after asking him, before the surgery: but will I live? They said, in order: yes, you will play again; you must have patience; to know when you can return to training you will need to wait for the next examination. So, next week, immediately after, I hope to get back to work, to run, and prepare myself to come back."
When, in your mind?
"At first I thought it would be nice to return to play Inter-Chievo, a turn after the accident. Now I have mentally shortened the time: in January I will rest, in February I will train without hitting my head because it is prohibited, in March I will do headers and fight the fear, and at the end of March, I will return. But these are my calculations, we must see the doctor's calculations. If you pull a muscle it is the player who decides when to risk it, if there is a half circle cut into your head, they decide."
The day that they decide, would Chivu like to see everyone who operated and assisted at the clinic?
"They were fantastic, I have promised them that I will send a bus to take them all to the stadium. Which reminds me of when I said to myself 'I have a crazy desire to take just one run' I took of the bandage and asked Adelina to take a picture of my head: I saw her turn white as a sheet, then I saw the picture and I turned white as well. I already had enough points to win the scudetto in January."
How often do you happen to think: what if when you return to the pitch you are afraid?
"Now I think of returning with desire, not with fear: my mind is clean, I tell myself that I have overcome so much and that this too will pass. That I will not be afraid, I will play and I will be calm. But if it will really be this way, I dont know, I cannot know."
Would a helmet help?
"They told me it would not, but maybe I will want to wear one, why not? If I have permission to do it and I feel the need, without a doubt, also because I think it is less awkward than a mask: but I sincerely dont think I will need it."
And did it help to see your name on Inter's Champions League list?
"It was a great surprise: beautiful, because I thought about it often and I did not expect it. I want to say that Mourinho has been assured, I will say that it will be great motivation to get back as soon as possible."
In time for...?
"For another scudetto and perhaps for the Champions League. I watched the derby sweating in front of the tv, here in Bucharest; the two against Chelsea I will watch at the stadium but I will not suffer any less, then if my teammates are giving, I hope to be in time to stop cheering and do something else: this cracked skull, or rather ex cracked, tells me that I want very much to be there too."
On his head, now Cristian Chivu wears a decimated head of hair like before, and when it grows back, continues to cut it: "Short as I wore it that first year at Rome." He doesnt need to hide the scar that makes a half-circle in his hair, it will be covered when it is only the memory of a discovery: "Not that I am stronger or weaker than I thought, but that the most important thing in my life is not me, but the people I live for. And when this is so, certainly you appreciate life more."
Torna Presto Cris