Italy defender Francesco Acerbi refused to leave children’s hospital until he saw each child

Italy defender Francesco Acerbi showed his class when the Azzurri squad visited a children’s hospital in Rome this week.

Roberto Mancini’s players made a trip to Bambino Gesù clinic on Thursday, ahead of their Euro 2020 qualifier against Greece.

The squad brought gifts for the children and handed out tickets to Saturday’s match, which Italy won 2-0, to staff and family members.

And Acerbi refused to leave the hospital until he spent time with each and every child.

According to Alessandro Iapino, the press officer for the national team, the Lazio player was prepared to make his own way home after being told that the team bus was set to leave.

“I don’t care, they can go. I’ll get a taxi, but I won’t leave until I’ve seen everyone,” Acerbi replied when informed that the bus was leaving.

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His gesture was truly wonderful.

The hospital visit was very close to Acerbi’s heart, for he has been diagnosed with testicular cancer twice in recent years.

Acerbi, formerly of AC Milan, was first diagnosed with the disease in 2013.

He beat it and, when it returned, showed immense courage to defeat it for a second time.

Acerbi has since written about his experiences, admitting he felt “defeated” when he was first struck with cancer.

“The illness changed my life,” the 31-year-old said, per Goal. “Now I pay a lot more attention to not just my lifestyle but also to the smaller things.

“At the start I felt defeated, I was no longer setting myself any objectives or goals and I didn’t want to fight.

“But then with time I started to fight first against the cancer, then also to win back my place on the football field.”

He has since recovered and now finds himself part of the Italy setup that has qualified for next year’s European Championship.

Acerbi played the full 90 minutes against Greece as Italy made it seven wins from seven in qualifying.

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