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 Gianpaolo Imbriani

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Like the majority of Italian kids, I also dreamed of scoring that goal in the last minute of a World Cup and still at 33 years old, I close my eyes and imagine it happening.

But luckily, Carmelo opened my eyes many years ago.

One of those conversations that you carry with you when you are at a crossroads, and it accompanies you  on the other side of the road:

“Have you ever wondered what motivates you to stay on the field, even if it is pouring rain and the game is one of those played without a referee? It is passion!

But then if you grow up, you realize that that game can never be organized again, because it is cold, and it is better to not catch a cold, or if you have to train, you prefer to stay out in the country because you know that you’ll see the girl you like that afternoon, in that case it is best not to waste time on that road.”

Just playing soccer is satisfying.

“Play it”, because with the ball you don’t need a contract. You find it always and everywhere.  Give us a soccer when you’re  inclined to play, rediscover yourself in matches with old friends, and present yourself to others on fields far away from this.  There wasn’t much to do, and I preferred that girl!  I preferred spending time with my friends, staying out late, and not having to worry about setting a good example for those who saw me on and off the field.

But, above all, that which I saw on TV did not correspond with what I saw at home with Carmelo.  From that moment, in any part of the world,  the first step to integrating myself in a city was to approach the field and ask to play.  In a majority of cases, after I finished, I drank a beer with a couple of players, resulting in what I had hoped for: one more friend!

 Diamante Imbriani

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I have always considered soccer in terms of Carmelo:  no teams, no jersey in particular, I cheered always and only for him, wearing any color and playing any role.  I hated it when he was on the bench, so much so that I hoped his team would lose.  He did not like that I thought this, and every time, he would say to me, “If my team loses, then I lose too”.

 

Then through him, I got to know soccer better, real soccer, clean, where every sacrifice becomes a passion, where we take the field for only one purpose,  and where we never forget that it is a game, and  as such we should remember to have fun too.

Those who saw Carmelo saw all of this too: his soccer, his values, his rules, and his joy.  All you had to do was look him in the eyes and understand that all of this truly existed, and Imbriani Don’t Give Up, in these months, has demonstrated that.

In this photo one can understand that as a child, in his arms I always felt happy and protected, and it is exactly that sensation that I hope all of this can prove, that through him and like him, there is still belief in the sport.

Giovanni Parente “Giò Giò” 

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We grew up like brothers, from the first day of school until the end in the hospital.  From when I was little, I went all over Italy to see his matches and I was so proud to see him on the field.

Even after he realized his dream of playing in Serie A, our friendship didn’t change.   All of his passion, his work, and his sacrifices made since childhood led him to where I always hoped, but his status as a soccer player neither affected, nor changed his way of seeing things and people.  The Mondays he returned home, he would pick me up in his car, and in those hours together we would talk about everything.  He never once forgot an occasion.  For my 18th birthday he gave me the jersey he first made his debut in, that I still have among my most important things.  He loved Christmas time the most, and with the excuse of playing cards, he would contact his old friends from home to spend long evenings together retelling the memories and stories that made us laugh the most.  He was a man of few words, but even without opening his mouth, he could project to me his concerns and joys.  More than once I heard him complain of the dirty, corrupt soccer that he did not like, but he was able introduce me to a loyal side of soccer that I previously found hard to believe existed.   I still remember an interview before an important game vs. Juventus, among all of the people closest and most important to him, he cited me, calling me an important friend in whom he could confide everything.  With me, he always shared his joys and his sorrows, even off the field, but when he learned about his illness, he could not share it with me.  He did not want to hear from me, and he was not able to speak to me.   A week passed before he found the courage to call me, I was happy that he did that, but I was destroyed hearing him cry for the first time.

On January 26, 2013 Carmelo sent me a text from his hospital bed, closing his written thoughts with…your friend for forever!

 

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