Ask any football fan growing up in the 90s, and they’ll tell you that Gabriel Batistuta was pretty decent.
The Argentinian legend once terrorised opposition defences for the likes of Fiorentina and Roma, but his efforts on the pitch have taken a serious toll on his life after football – as nowadays he struggles to walk due to the intense pain in his knees.
But that’s nothing compared to the agony he was suffering a few years ago, when he says he begged doctors to amputate his legs.
Speaking to FIFA 1904, Batistuta talks openly about the rumours that plagued his career and his life since hanging up his boots.
There was often whispers that Batistuta didn’t actually like football and only played it because he was good at it (which is fair enough) but the former striker insists that the pain he suffers these days shows how much the game meant to him.
He said:” I did say it, but I was trying to protect myself against the press and the public.
“I said it so they’d stop asking me things.
“You have to remember I was playing in Italy in the good times.
“There was a lot of pressure and everyone talked about football all the time, which I found pretty boring.
“It goes without saying that I love the game, the tactics, the training and everything that happens on the pitch.
“I wasn’t that excited about football when I was young, but it did become my passion.
“I ended up living and breathing football.
“Now, I have difficulty walking because of it, because I gave more than I had to give.”
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And three years ago, things got really bad for the former Argentina record-holder.
So bad, in fact, that he told a doctor to cut his legs off.
Speaking in 2014, he said: “I left football and overnight I couldn’t walk.
“I went to see Doctor Avanzi [an Orthopaedic specialist] and told him to cut off my legs.
“He looked at me and told me I was crazy.
“I couldn’t bear it any longer.
“I can’t put in to words just how bad the pain was.
“I looked at Oscar Pistorius and said: ‘That’s my solution.’”
Batistuta spent the majority of his career with Fiorentina, but was linked with all the greats of the day; including Real Madrid and Manchester United.
He was forced to leave Florence in 2000 with the club needing the money from his sale, so he joined Roma, where he won his first league title in Italy (alongside a certain Francesco Totti).
For some, he’ll be best remembered for his exploits with Argentina, famously scoring hat-tricks at two different World Cups — 1994 and 1998 — while he held his country’s goal scoring record for ages before it was overtaken by Lionel Messi this summer.