01-11-2017 by Freddie del Curatolo
After many battles on the field and many adventures around the world, Stefano Salvatori lost the most important one of all.
The former footballer of Milan and Fiorentina, known by everyone in Malindi, at only 49 years old he died out after a long battle with a bastard evil against which he fought as a lion.
They look like sentences made, but in the case of Stefano no.
Because it's not everyone who fights with a smile every day, decide to bring two children to the world knowing already that they could grow up without his guide and his affection and give him love despite moments of despair.
A promising midfielder, Salvatori lived the golden rossoneri years, being part of the team that won the Champions' Cup in 1990, as well as playing with Viola, Atalanta and Spal.
After spending some season in Malindi, in the midst of his Scottish adventures (he had finished his career as a footballer in Edinburgh and later he met his Australian companion) he moved to Brisbane, where he directed a youth football school.
The same dream that he had cultivated with me and former footballer Riccardo Botta at Malindi United.
To raise the disadvantaged children of poor neighbourhoods by teaching them the "healthy" part of football.
His friend Franco Barlocco, with whom he shared the joy of living and having fun, took him to Malindi.
He was back in winter, even twice a year and for a while he had thought of moving permanently to Kenya.
Stefano is one of the purest and most beautiful people I've ever met - says Barlocco, who has been attending Malindi for many years - he had an unconditional love for life and a sense of sincere friendship. That's why in a short time so many friends were made on the coast of Kenya that today weep a boy who has left so soon. I remember him in this way, his smile, his calm voice, his suitcase always ready for a new journey ".
How many dinners in Malindi's cheerful atmosphere, carefree Indian Ocean baths, safaris in Tsavo and excursions to Watamu.
Without forgetting to be in Africa and to be able to make available his sports culture and philosophy of life for the future of many less fortunate but no less imaginative and prepared boys.
From the first time we attended, I understood that Stefano had nothing to do with today's football environment.
He didn't "pull" it and didn't want to make money at all costs.
Probably for this reason he probably preferred to dream of new adventures, possibly far from Italy, and was well in Kenya.
That's a den of sharks - he repeated, as we watched the little Kenyans put it all on a field of land and little grass - better try to do something here in Africa. Here the boys still have that spirit with which I grew up in the neighborhoods of Rome, when I ran and kicked at the Lodigiani ball and dreamed of becoming a real player ".
Stephen never stopped dreaming, that's what he shared with the people of Kenya.
The enthusiasm and the positivity of taking life as it comes, he who had lived a career of ups and downs and the precariousness of the "after" that often becomes a drama for football players.
For some time, while he was having fun here as a personal trainer to his friends and running every day on Silversand beach, we had worked on a project to bring to his friend and companion at the time of Milan, Marcel Desailly.
Let's go together in Gabon - he told me - we open a series of football schools for young people and bring the culture of sport as life education ".
Then the adventures brought him to Australia, and love gave birth to two little brothers, while at the same time he was already grandfather of one of his daughters in Italy since his first marriage.
It had become great, Stephen.
Great like his heart, which had always been so.
And he would certainly return to visit us again for a safari with his family, in this place with great spaces of the soul and great dreams, which resembled him so much.
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