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LONDON, July 24 (ZoomSoccer) - Injury-plagued Chelsea striker Pierluigi Casiraghi has spoken out about his arduous rehabilitation, which has included 10 operations, after suffering knee ligament damage during a match against West Ham.

The 31-year-old former Lazio player, a £5.4m signing three seasons ago vowed to make a comeback.

The Italian said: “I hope to make a return as soon as possible. I´ve never given up. I have been battling with all my strength to leave this nightmare behind. I´m doing all I can to get better.

“I can already detect some improvements and contrary to what people have said, I have been able to walk for the last year and a half.

“There are still physical problems to resolve but I am looking forward with optimism and willpower. At my age there are still grounds for hope. The main thing is for me to keep my mental strength up,” he concluded.
 

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Forza Casiraghi!

I hope he can come back and play again, even if he can never return to his old self. It's always sad when a career ends with injury.
 

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CHELSEA DENY CASIRAGHI CLAIMS

CHELSEA have hit back at accusations they have not helped Italian striker Pierluigi Casiraghi in his fightback from injury.

The 31-year-old suffered serious knee ligament damage in a match against West Ham in November 1998 and has been quoted as saying the club have not helped his rehabilitation.

Casiraghi, who played only 10 league games for Chelsea after his £5.4million move from Lazio before suffering the injury, stormed: ''I have had no help from England, either from club officials or medical staff.''

And, after his 10th operation in Bologna last week, he added: ''Lots of my team-mates have phoned, as has Gianluca Vialli, but he is the manager and not an official of the club.

''Anything I have done since my injury, I have had to do alone. Sergio Cragnotti Lazio's president has sent me a lot of telegrams. He is a man of great class - unlike others I could mention.''

However, Chelsea managing director Colin Hutchinson was at a loss to explain the player's 'outburst'. He said: ''It's a tragedy what happened to Gigi and we all feel and care for him. What has prompted him to come out with this outburst I'm not sure.

''Perhaps something has been lost in the translation - Gigi, bless him, was not the best in speaking English - or maybe there is a hidden agenda.

''Gigi is still on a sizeable salary paid by us and he has had 10 operations and substantial rehabilitation - mostly paid for by Chelsea. He decided on the rehabilitation in Bologna.''

Pointing out that two of the club's doctors have made visits to Italy to monitor his progress, Hutchinson added: ''I feel it is totally unfair, unkind and ungrateful for him to say these things and the staff here who have cared for him will be feeling quite upset today.''

''We are all willing and hoping he'll come back to us as a player and hope his latest operation will prove a success.

''He's a lovely man and I won't get into a slanging match with him, maybe it's been mistranslated, maybe there's a hidden agenda behind it, but I am disappointed and surprised at the quotes that have come out.

''I'm sure we'll shake hands next time we meet, but felt it was important to set the record straight from Chelsea's point of view.''
 

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CASIRAGHI STANDS FIRM IN CHELSEA ROW

Striker Refuses To Back Down In war Of Words

by Alex Frosio

PIERLUIGI CASIRAGHI has refused to back down in his war of words with Chelsea. "Nothing of what I said could be distorted, because they took an interview I gave to the Italian newspaper, 'La Repubblica'. I stick by every single thing I said."

Casiraghi has just undergone his tenth operation as he bids to recover from knee ligament damage he sustained in a collision with West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop almost two years ago. And he is hopeful that he will soon be back playing again.

"The operation went well," he added "There was no problem. Now I'm supposed to rest for the next few days, and then I will start again with the rehabilitation program. Naturally I hope I'll make a return as soon as possible, and that my tenth operation should be the last one."
 
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