Sevilla coach's cancer battle inspires fightback against Liverpool

A day after Sevilla rallied to hold Liverpool to a remarkable 3-3 draw in the Champions League, the Spanish club said coach Eduardo '˜Toto' Berizzo has a malignant tumour.

Guido Pizarro (R) celebrates with Eduardo Berizzo (L) after scoring a last-gasp equaliser against Liverpool. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Guido Pizarro (R) celebrates with Eduardo Berizzo (L) after scoring a last-gasp equaliser against Liverpool. Picture: AFP/Getty Images

Rumours about the coach’s condition began spreading not long after Tuesday’s match in Seville. On Wednesday, the club confirmed that the 48-year-old Argentine has been diagnosed with a prostate tumour.

Sevilla president Jose Castro said the club had known about Berizzo’s condition for at least two weeks. Berizzo shared the information with his squad in the aftermath of Saturday’s La Liga win over Celta Vigo.

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Sevilla’s mantra of ‘Never Give Up’ was extensively brought up by fans and players after the club pulled off its comeback against Liverpool with an injury-time goal by Guido Pizarro.

Berizzo looks on prior to the start of the Group E match between Sevilla and Liverpool. Picture: Getty Images

It was brought up again on Wednesday.

“You are in the best place in the world to never give up,” former Sevilla sporting director Ramon Rodriguez wrote on Twitter. “Where you are, they never give up.”

Sevilla was not clear about how Berizzo’s condition would affect his work. In a brief statement, the club said that further tests will determine what type of treatment will be required.

It was not clear if the coach will need to undergo surgery.

Berizzo looks on prior to the start of the Group E match between Sevilla and Liverpool. Picture: Getty Images

“Sevilla FC wants to show maximum support to its manager in these moments and wishes him a prompt recovery,” the club said.

Castro only said that Berizzo is ‘upbeat’ and wants everything to remain as normal as possible.

“He is working and will face this the right way,” Castro said. “We will not talk more about this theme. When there is more to tell the Sevilla fans, we will issue a new statement.”

Sevilla’s next match is a league clash against Villarreal on Sunday.

Coaches and players in Spain and abroad sent messages of support to Berizzo through social media sites.

Spain coach Julen Lopetegui said Berizzo has the ‘character to win this battle and many others,’ while Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said: “Life delivers many tough hits which remind us about what really matters.

“We are all with you, Berizzo.”

Berizzo was hired by Sevilla this season after Jorge Sampaoli left to coach Argentina’s national team. He had spent three seasons with Celta Vigo, guiding the club to the Europa League semi-finals and to two Copa del Rey semi-finals.

The Sevilla coach was among those jeered on Tuesday after the Andalusian outfit conceded three goals in the first 30 minutes of the Group E match against Liverpool at Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium. But Pizarro’s late goal from a corner salvaged the draw that kept the club in good position to advance to the knockout stages for the second straight season.

Sevilla lie one point behind Liverpool and two points in front of Spartak Moscow. They face basement club Maribor in the final round of fixtures on 6 December, while Liverpool take on Spartak at Anfield.

“The team kept believing and we experienced an unforgettable and exciting match,” Berizzo said after Tuesday’s game.

“We showed how competitive we are. We showed that animal that we have inside of us. We took risks to go after the result and that says a lot about the courage of these players.”

On Wednesday, Sevilla players were the ones trying to cheer their coach. The whole squad signed a statement in which the players pledged to help the coach ‘unconditionally ... in this difficult battle.’

“We wish him a quick recovery and remind him about something that has always marked this club, ‘They say it never gives up,”’ read the players’ message, which was posted on social media by Sevilla defender Nicolas Pareja.

“We want to give him strength and show that he is not alone.”