Pierluigi Casiraghi: A story of what could have been

He hadn’t got off to the quickest of starts, but we still had hope, and his goal at Anfield had helped keep the dream alive. Then it happened. West Ham. Upton Park. The injury.

When we interviewed him, Casiraghi had been chatting away happily until we brought it up, but there was a deep intake of breath on the other end of the phone as he composed himself to recount the day his career was ended. He knew the question was coming, but the emotion of the moment seemed close to the surface even two decades on.

‘I remember that just before the match I had a fever – not too much but my temperature was 38 degrees,’ he explained. ‘So I spoke with Luca and we decided that I would do the warm-up and then we would see if I would play. After the warm-up I said I was okay and I wanted to play because it was an important match.’

He would probably never have remembered that conversation had it not turned out to be a sliding doors moment for him.

‘After 20 minutes, I clashed with Hislop, their goalkeeper, and…yeah.’

He trailed off and a brief silence that felt like an age followed.

‘But, you know, this is football, and I was unlucky. It can happen. It can happen.’