Sevilla have confirmed their head coach has cancer but denied he told players of his diagnosis in his half-time team talk to inspire their comeback from 3-0 down against Liverpool on Tuesday.
Players were actually told Eduardo Berizzo has prostate cancer on Sunday.
Spanish media reports initially said Berizzo told his players at half-time in Tuesday’s Champions League game, which they fought back to draw 3-3.
But the club told BBC Sport: “He did not mention it.”
Sevilla’s players rushed to Berizzo after Guido Pizarro scored an injury-time equaliser at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
A club statement wished the 48-year-old Argentine a “speedy recovery”.
On Wednesday captain Nico Pareja posted a statement online on behalf of the players and club staff offering the coach their “unconditional support”.
“We pass on to him something that has been the mark of this club for a long time – ‘It is said we never surrender’ – we’ll all be there to make sure of that,” the statement said.
“Gaffer, you have more than enough courage to get through all of this, you’ve won our respect and affection and we want to let you know you can count on your team
and thousands of people that will stand by you and will help you in this process. You are not alone in this battle!”
Sevilla president Jose Castro said Berizzo will remain in charge as long as his duties are compatible with his treatment.
“Berizzo is strong and will continue while we wait for treatment,” Castro said.
“We will support and rally round him because we are sure his problem will be solved.”
Berizzo was appointed head coach in the summer on a two-year deal, following a three-year stint at Celta Vigo.
Roberto Firmino scored twice and Sadio Mane added the third as Liverpool dominated the opening 45 minutes of the Group E match,
and were set to qualify for the knockout stages with a game to spare before Sevilla’s stunning second-half performance.
Wissam Ben Yedder scored with a header and a penalty in the first 15 minutes of the second half before Pizarro poked in the equaliser in the third of seven added minutes.
“We had to come out with a different attitude for the fans and for the boss, he made us play like that,” said Sevilla midfielder Ever Banega.
We’d like to wish our former player Eduardo Berizzo a full and speedy recovery after this difficult news.
Get well soon, “Toto” 🙏 pic.twitter.com/Hjw6eJElxZ
— Olympique Marseille (@OM_English) 22 de novembro de 2017
Berizzo made 13 appearances for Marseille in 1999-2000
— LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) 22 de novembro de 2017
Spain’s top flight reacted to the news of Berizzo’s diagnosis
— Valencia CF English (@valenciacf_en) 22 de novembro de 2017
Valencia were quick to add their support for Berizzo
— Málaga CF English (@MalagaCF_en) 22 de novembro de 2017
Malaga sent their best wishes to Berizzo and his club
This article was originally published by bbc.com