Argentina icon Batistuta undergoes ankle surgery after 'begging' doctor to amputate legs

Gabriel Batistuta
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The legendary goalscorer has lived with years of pain since his retirement in 2005, and says he is not the only footballer to experience such problems

Argentina legend Gabriel Batistuta has revealed he begged a doctor to amputate his legs after suffering years of mobility issues since his retirement in 2005.

The Fiorentina icon, who scored more than 350 goals for club and country throughout a 17-year career, has now undergone surgery on his ankle as he looks to "walk like a normal person again."

Batistuta has spoken before about the day-to-day physical agony of his post-playing life, an often ignored aspect of life as a professional footballer.

“I was crying from the pain so I asked a doctor to amputate my legs,” he told Corriere della Sera.

“I felt pain, pain and more pain. The operation was a solution I’d been chasing for at least six to seven years.

“In 40 days, once I remove the brace, we’ll know if the pain has disappeared and I can finally walk like a normal person again.”

The two-time Copa America winner, who also represented Newell’s Old Boys, River Plate, Boca Juniors, Roma, Inter and Al-Arabi throughout his prolific career, says he realised the extent of the damage done to his ankles immediately after he retired.

Gabriel Batistuta Argentina

His remarkable tally of 54 goals in 77 international games sees him second on Argentina’s all-time top scorers list, behind only Lionel Messi. But Batistuta says he is far form the first goalscoring icon to have experienced such problems off the pitch.

“As soon as I stopped playing, I found my ankles to be in pieces,” he added. “Bone against bone, supporting a weight of 86-87 kilograms. The slightest movement became agony.

“I had the same problem as [Marco] Van Basten, who said enough was enough at 28 years of age.

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“I couldn’t get out of bed on some days. I’d be crying with anger and I said to myself: ‘It can’t go on like this.’

“I felt sick, so sick that I went to a doctor friend of mine and asked him to amputate my legs. I prayed to him, I insisted. I told him that this was no longer life.”

While Batistuta has never managed a professional side in the 15 years since he retired from playing, he has been linked with a move into management on more than one occasion in recent years.