Bologna Manager Sinisa Mihajlovic Diagnosed with Leukaemia

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJuly 13, 2019

Bologna's Serbian head coach Sinisa Mihajlovic attends the Italian Serie A football match AC Milan vs Bologna on May 6, 2019 at the San Siro stadium in Milan. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)

Sinisa Mihajlovic has said he will "fight" after the Bologna coach learned he has leukaemia.

The 50-year-old held a press conference on Saturday alongside a club doctor to explain the diagnosis, per Football Italia. Mihajlovic said he underwent examination while suffering from a fever, and tests "showed leukaemia."

"When I got the news, it was a real blow," he said. "I sat there for days crying, your life passes by your eyes. These are not tears of fear. I respect the illness, I will face it, with chest puffed out, looking it in the eyes, the way I always have done. I cannot wait to go to hospital and start the fight. It is aggressive, but it is beatable."

News of the Serb's illness was broken by Corriere dello Sport (h/t Football Italia). Mihajlovic, who had asked for privacy after the diagnosis, wasn't happy about the way the story was revealed: "Unfortunately, [privacy] did not happen, not everyone respected it and in order to sell a few more hundred copies, they ruined a long-term friendship."

The former Lazio defender explained how he had spoken to his players about the news:

"I explained to them we have to attack and go to win. If we sit back and try to defend, we'll get knocked down straight away. I have to use my tactics in this battle and I am sure, without any doubts, that I will win this battle. I'll win it for my family, for my children, for all those who love me."

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Mihajlovic hasn't been short of well-wishers and said he had received as many as 700 messages of support. He also expressed his gratitude for Bologna's support, referencing club president Joey Saputo and the "family" environment.

Mihajlovic also noted how his father passed away from cancer, something that's encouraged him to get tested regularly.

The club doctor identified the illness as "acute Leukemia" While combatting the symptoms would have been next to impossible two decades ago, the doctor described how "we have the tools to ensure a complete cure, we can talk about a coach who can work, can train, can affect what happens on the field and in the dressing room."

Mihajlovic will be absent from the team at points during his treatment, with stays in hospital necessary. He took charge of Bologna in January in his second spell at the club, following a brief stint that ended in 2009. Tenures with Fiorentina, Sampdoria, Milan, Torino and Sporting followed.

Former Manchester City chief Roberto Mancini, who played with Mihajlovic for two clubs and later made the Serbian his assistant manager at Inter Milan, posted this message of support on Instagram (h/t Football Italia): "You're too strong, this won't scare you and besides we need to go play paddleboard afterwards."

A highly successful playing career, during which he was known for versatility, a wand of a left foot and spectacular free-kicks, saw Mihajlovic win the European Cup with Red Star Belgrade in 1991. He also played for Sampdoria, Roma and Inter.