SEVILLE, Spain: Spanish football rallied round Sevilla’s Argentine coach Eduardo Berizzo on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) after the club confirmed he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer a day after his side staged a dramatic Champions League comeback against Liverpool.
“The medical services of Sevilla FC can inform that the coach of the first team, Eduardo Berizzo, has been diagnosed with an adenocarcinoma of the prostate,” Sevilla said in a statement.
Berizzo, 48, oversaw training on Wednesday following his team fighting back from three goals down at half-time to draw 3-3 with Liverpool at the Sanchez Pizjuan stadium on Tuesday night, and Sevilla president Jose Castro insisted he will remain in charge as long as his duties are compatible with his treatment.
“Berizzo is strong and will continue while we wait for treatment,” Castro told Sevilla’s radio station.
“It is a personal matter and we want to make it clear that he is our coach.
“We will support and rally round him because we are sure his problem will be solved.”
A former centre-back for River Plate, Marseille and Celta Vigo among others, Berizzo, nicknamed Toto, is in his first season as Sevilla boss after three successful years in charge of Celta.
The hashtag AguanteToto (staystrongToto) was trending in Spain with clubs, including Real Madrid and Barcelona, and players sending Berizzo messages of support.
“Be strong boss, you are in the best place in the world to not give in because there they never give up,” said Sevilla’s acclaimed former sporting director Monchi, who joined Serie A club Roma earlier this year.
“Life brings blows that make us remember what really matters. We are all with you Berizzo,” said Real Madrid and Spain captain Sergio Ramos, himself a former Sevilla player.
Berizzo made no statement on his health when speaking to media, but news of his cancer diagnosis came just hours after his side’s remarkable comeback against Liverpool, with several Sevilla players hailing Berizzo’s powers of motivation to orchestrate their second-half revival.
Guido Pizzaro struck in the third minute of injury time to keep alive Sevilla’s hopes of topping Group E after Wissam Ben Yedder struck twice early in the second half to claw back three Liverpool goals in the first half an hour from Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
“We had to come out with a different attitude for the fans and for the boss, he made us play like that,” said Argentine international Ever Banega.
“He turned the situation around in the second half.”
Sevilla sit fifth in La Liga and need just a point from their final Champions League group game away at Maribor to secure their place in the last 16.