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Diario-Ole
May 23, 2002
Translated by Humbird

Today Abel Balbo announced his retirement from football. In a statement to Italian radio station Incontro, the 36 year old forward said that he had decidedd to retire desipite having several offers. He said he didn't want to continue moving around the world.

"My family is accustomed to living in rome and it is where I want to live."

The Argentine finished his career wearing the Boca shirt has he had said he wanted to do.


In Argentina, Balbo played for Newell´s (1987-88), River (1988-89), and this year played four matches of the Copa Libertadores with Boca. In Europe he played his career in Italy. First at Udinese Udinese (1989-93), then he transferred to Roma where he played from 1993 to 1997 and returned in 2000. He also played at Parma (1997-98) and Fiorentina (1998-99).
 

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For me its shocking news:( I want him to retire after winning something in Argentina.
He has good record in Italy, Balbo was one of six players who passed 100 goals in Serie A in the last decade with Bati and Crespo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Here's an interveiw I translated a few years ago.
It's old by still interesting.

From LaNacion Magzine December 1997
Translated by Humbird


From Abel Balbo's house in l'Appia Antica, in the outskirts of Rome, one can observe the silhouette of the Vatican cupola and the profile of the Piazza San Pietro, two symbols of his profound faith.

Now he lives in a beautiful residence that he bought in the Real Sporting Club, a "country" complex called Le Ville, in one of the entrances to the Eternal City.

--Abel, do you continue to think about that miracle?--

"What happened is that we were a family with great faith. But normal people with faith. Like my father who said: 'I believe in God, but I don't go to church.' Then, I was 8 years old and didn't understand very much. The great believer was my mother. To have been very ill, practically dead, not to have two more minutes to live, and the doctor can't explain it... well, you can see it one way or the other, but something strange happened".

He tells the story of the miracle one more time.

"I was a child without many problems, very normal, but one morning I woke up to go to school and began to feel not very well. I had trouble breathing. It was as if the air entered my lungs, but would not go out. I could not speak and began to swell. My mother became desperate and took me to the hospital in Rosario, because in Empalme Villa Constitucion, where we lived, we did not have much. At the hospital was doctor Foradini, that some years later became my father-in-law (he is the father of Balbo's wife Lucila). When we arrived, I was blue for lack of oxygen. While the medics consulted among themselves, because no one understood what was happening, they put me in intensive care. The fever continued rising to 42 grades. After many meetings, the doctors concluded the worst, that there was nothing they could do. They called my mother in and told her to be ready for her son not to survive. She fell to her knees, put her hands together and said to God: I will not leave this place nor stop praying until you cure my son. To the surprise of all, a little after this I woke up in bed, got up, and asked for a glass of water. The fever had disappeared and I was cured. No one could understand it. I received a miracle, no doubt about it. And this was only the first signal."

Balbo does not believe in coincidences. Now he lives in Rome where he just became the highest non-Italian goal scorer since Italian football was reopened to foreigners.

"In the first place, I believe that I am a privileged person"

--Why? --

"For all that I have, it's all I've ever wanted: an excellent family, my parents are well, I play football on the highest level, I have a son."

--You didn't mention the money you earn.-

"It is important, too, although for me it is not in the first place. But, as I have everything, I made a promise to God."

--What did you promise?--

"Let's see if you understand. I am convinced that there are people who become one thing or another. To transmit to God, the priest speaks in the church, but there are people that don't go to church because they don't like priests. A rock singer can reach some people that a priest can't. A football player can reach some that a singer or a priest can't. And this is the point: I made a promise, that I was going to use my fame and my popularity to transmit the message of God."

--And how do you do it?-

"There are various ways. Sometimes, through an interview such as this-that I don't always give because it can be risky. Because generally, in the world of football, which is not very religious, they take you to be an idiot. But I don't care. Also it is possible to do it by way of example. But it is difficult to be a good example, because no one is perfect and we all commit errors. But I try to make as few as possible. But there are also small details. For example I put an image of the Virgin on my captain's armband. Many people ask me to give them an armband. There are small things..."

Every Sunday he attends Mass, and one time a week he goes to the Gruta de la Virgin de la Revelacion, south of the city. He drives on the Grande Raccordo Anulare, a road that goes around Roma, in his blue BMW 528, and parks near the sanctuary. There, everyone knows him, and not only for his goals. And, of course, they all know the history of this place.

"Here, on April 12, 1947, the Virgin Mary appeared to a man, Bruno Cornachiola, who was a militant atheist who said he wanted to kill the pope. But on this day he converted. I met him. He is 85 years old. He told me where the Virgin appeared and where he was. He let me sit in a chair where she was: it has a perfume of roses that does not go away. On each anniversary 50,000 pilgrims come. One day, from here, the sun appeared double. I could not see it, but my wife Lucila did. She told me that she saw two suns, really."

At his comfortable home he just bought, which has three floors, a large garden and a swimming pool, he tells more stories very naturally.

"When I was with Udinese, I went to church every Saturday to light a candle to the Virgin. When I would arrive at 10 minutes to 6, there always were people there. But one Saturday, curiously, no one from the team wanted to accompany me, and when I arrived there was absolutely no one at the church. It seemed strange, and I thought I had mistaken the time. I looked at my watch, but no, it was the right time. Then I tried to light the candle, like always. I touched the match to the candle wick but a flame did not appear. I put the match out because it was burning my fingers. I tried again... the same thing happened. I tried to adjust the wick, and as my fingers touched the wick, the candle lit. It was three or four days before I told anyone about it. They would have thought I was crazy."

--Many things have happened to him. He doesn't tell all because of his modesty, but they are known.-

One time, when he still lived in Udine, a letter arrived from a child who had leukaemia. He wanted to meet Abel to tell him a story. Abel called him and was told this story. He was a fan of skiing and knew little about Balbo. He said that when he was diagnosed with leukaemia the doctor said there was no hope. They gave him six months to a year to live. He went to an experimental clinic in Switzerland. One day during treatment, he fell asleep and dreamed that he was in a green garden. He thought he had died. He fell into a coma. But the dream continued, and in it Abel appeared even though he was just a stranger. Abel was his ski coach. He made him practice and practice. And while still dreaming he came out of the coma.

After writing the letter, he met Balbo, who gave him a rosary to help him. The child went back to the clinic and continued the treatments. The leukaemia was gone and he began to ski again, and remains a friend.

They also tell-because he himself never gives details about these-that one time a boy needed a bone marrow transplant. He was a fan of Roma and wanted to meet his idol. Of course, Balbo went to visit many times. The boy had the surgery and Balbo called every day, the sickness began to get better and the news ran through the hospital and Balbo's calls became a classic.

These things and others are repeated about the protagonist of this story. "Look how easily you can help others." Because of these things, there are football fans that have the illusion that he can help when doctors can't.

"One day I went to the airport with a friend to wait for my wife's arriving from Argentina. We ordered something to drink, but when the waiter came with the cappuccino, he don't let us pay for it. I thought that he was a fan of Roma and that it was strange that he didn't want to talk about the team. He then thanked me for what I had done for his son. It turns out that he was the father of a boy that I had called on the telephone when he was sick. It was a great satisfaction of my life."

Balbo has many satisfactions.

Among those one stands out: "The meeting that he had with Pope John Paul II was most significant and the best of my life." I went with my family and the other Argentines who played in Italy. He received us in his private chapel and celebrated a private Mass.

How to spend his spare time...

He reads the Bible, especially Ecclesiastes and prays before every game. In addition to his religion it is a life like any other. Two times a week for the last two years, he received the English teacher in his house . The rest of his free time he plays with his computer. "I am very engaged with the internet. I read La Nacion, Clarin, El Grafico..." and he goes out to eat with his friends.

--How is your contact with friends in Empalme Villa Constitucion?-

"Little, obviously. I cannot always call them. And also I can understand that they can't call me because they are not rich, and it costs a lot."

--Your parents are still there too?-

Yes. My mother has a clothing business and my father does...nothing. And he is well. Look, I am very privileged but neither my wife nor my family takes advantage of it. Many times they need something but don't ask for it."

Balbo gets up at 8:00 each morning. His BMW is parked just in front of the door of his house. He has breakfast together with Lucila, his first and only love, and son Nicolas.

--How do you see the situation with "la Seleccion Argentina?"- (Being called by Argentine national team)

"It's not a matter of life or death, but I would like to go to the World Cup in France."

--And how do you see the end of your career. You said Boca one time.-

"If I end in Argentina, I would like to go to Newells where my career was born, or to Boca. I have that possibility with Macri as president because he likes me as a person and as a player. When I end my contact with Roma, it is one of the possibilities."

--And when will this be?-

In 1999.

--You will be 33 years old.-

"Yes, just the age to decide if to continue or not. But the will of God will decide my future. He uses me while I am a football player. He will have something after football for me. I do this because I love it, when I don't love it anymore I will leave. I don't think I will suffer when I retire."

That is the word of Balbo.
 

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One Great player..One Great human person......
Wish him and his family the Best for years to come..
He Truly deserves it !!!

:)
 

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Balbo calls it a day Sunday 26 May, 2002

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Abel Balbo has announced his retirement at the age of 36 after a long and eventful career, much of which was in Serie A.

The Argentine hitman left Roma in April for a brief spell in his homeland with Boca Juniors.

“In this last month I have proven that I am still a good player,” explained the veteran, “and I thank God for this.”

“I always wanted to end my career by wearing the Boca jersey, and I have achieved this dream.”

In order to play for his childhood favourite side, the former international backed out of a Roma contract worth £1.25m per season and accepted a wage deal worth less than a fifth of that.

Balbo first touched down in Italy in 1989, beginning his Serie A career with Udinese. He went on to play for Roma, Parma and Fiorentina.

After 14 years in the Peninsula this has become his second home. “It is now time to think of my family and they want to live in Rome. From now on I am no longer a football player.”

channel4
 

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Balbo was a great player, a great human beingm he gave the NT many a good time, he was a star in Italy, and even a champion with AS Roma, good luck to him.


Thanks Balbo..
 
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