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Steve Savidan’s Career Ended By The One Organ He Could Always Rely On

He wasn’t the best footballer, he wasn’t the worst. But, as exemplified by the way it ended, Steve Savidan’s career was a story more worthy than those of most of his peers…

Savidan lived up to the hype at Caen...

Savidan lived up to the hype at Caen...

Oh, the irony of life.
A week ago, Steve Savidan was just another footballer nervously awaiting a transfer that might elevate his professional career.
Today, as a direct result of such a transfer materialising, the French international is resigning himself to the fact he will never play football at the highest level again.
A player renowned for his heart and resilience, Savidan has seen his career ended without warning by a problem with the one organ on which he could always rely.
Expecting to complete a move over the weekend from recently relegated Caen—for whom he scored 14 goals in 38 games last season—to one of France’s biggest sides, AS Monaco, only a medical stood in the former journeyman’s way.
But, in the same week where a successful medical reignited the career of an injury prone Michael Owen, the discovery of a severe heart defect by the Monaco physios has had the opposite effect on the Savidan—a player for whom fitness was rarely a problem.
“Unfortunately, signing for Monaco is no longer possible,” Savidan was forced to announce over the weekend. “The tests show there is a cardiac anomaly that has recently appeared. It is a real mental blow. It is likely that the doctors will not let me pursue my career.”
If Caen had not been relegated, if Savidan had not been forced to move to keep his slim international hopes alive, then perhaps he would have continued played—ignorant to the perilous danger he was in.
But throughout his career Savidan has not had much time for “what ifs”. He’s just dealt with problems as they arise. And he is well-versed in overcoming adversity.
After all, football hasn’t always been kind to him.
Barely five years ago, Savidan was supplementing his measly income with non-league Angoulême by working a number of menial jobs. One of those was as a binman—a fact that would mare the headlines he would subsequently make throughout his career.
Angoulême was his sixth club. Having already failed to make an impact at the previous five, it looked likely that striker had a better chance of making a living from emptying the trash than scoring goals.
Savidan would prove the doubters, and to an extent himself, wrong however, as he suddenly found his goalscoring touch (12 in 37 games) with the lowly side.
“I am proof that the system doesn’t always work,” said Savidan recently. “I was born at the wrong time. I’m from the same generation as Henry and Anelka [he is the same age as both men] and when they were coming through you had to be well over six-foot to be picked for youth schemes. I’m quite a bit under six-foot.”
A move to Valenciennes—a once respectable side, who had fallen out of the top divisions—materialized, and it was there that the 5’9” Savidan discovered it was his head—his heart had never been in question—that had held his career back.
“Whenever I was given a chance in the past I didn’t take it,” Savidan later said. “It’s possible that I destroyed myself. Very possible, in fact. You could almost say I was suicidal. But then I was analysed and helped by the right people, specifically a psychiatrist at Angers and a GP at Valenciennes.”
Mentally more assured, Savidan proceeded to shoot his new team to two promotions in succession, back into France’s top division, Ligue 1.
There, his goalscoring touch did not desert him, and he proceeded to score 25 goals over two seasons for unfashionable Valenciennes, including four in one game past the World Cup winning goalkeeper Fabien Barthez.
At the end of the 2007-08 season, Caen came calling and bought the former binman for €5m.
Savidan just kept scoring.
Soon, talk of an international call-up began to emerge. By now a 30-year-old, Savidan held little hope of such a dream materializing so late in his career. The last French player to earn his debut at 30 was Franck Juretti in 2005, and his international career lasted just 10 seconds.
The last Caen player to be called up to the French squad was in 1992.
But that didn’t stop him imploring coach Raymond Domenech to consider it.
“Imagine if it works,” Savidan said during an interview in 2008. “Imagine if I hit two goals just like I’ve dreamed of doing since I was a kid. Where’s the risk in trying? If I don’t fit in, I’ll toddle back to where I came from and you can say ‘see, I told you he wasn’t up to it.'”
Whether it was the impassioned speech or his impressive goalscoring record that did the job, Savidan got his wish as Domenech called the striker up for France’s friendly against Uruguay.
In the second half, Savidan would achieve his ambition as he made his international debut in front of 79,000 at Stade de France. But there would not be the realization of the two-goal dream he had since childhood, as the game finished 0-0.
It would be Savidan’s only international appearance.
But then, one is always better than none.
Only a week ago, the spectre of undiscovered heart defects was brought sharply into focus as the Confederations Cup final become a stage to remember the death of Cameroon international Marc-Vivien Foe, who died of a heart-attack on the pitch, aged just 27.
Foe’s death, along with that of Hungarian Miklos Feher, made FIFA sit up and realise something had to be done to prevent such fatalities in future.
Savidan’s situation proves that such testing is getting better and prevention is becoming the norm, but hopefully it will also encourage FIFA to realise that they cannot rest on their laurels, that players of all ages and at all levels should have the opportunity to be tested against such life-threatening problems.
With his career brought to an abrupt halt, at least Savidan can look back with pride on what he managed to achieve, overcoming the odds.
And at least he will live to face the challenges of another day, whatever it may bring.

Oh, the irony of life.

A week ago, Steve Savidan was just another footballer nervously awaiting a transfer that might elevate his professional career.

Today, as a direct result of such a transfer materialising, the French international is resigning himself to the fact he will never play football at the highest level again.

A player renowned for his heart and resilience, Savidan has seen his career ended without warning by a problem with the one organ on which he could always rely.

Expecting to complete a move over the weekend from recently relegated Caen — for whom he scored 14 goals in 38 games last season — to one of France’s biggest sides, AS Monaco, only a medical stood in the former journeyman’s way.

But, in the same week where a successful medical reignited the career of an injury prone Michael Owen, the discovery of a severe heart defect by the Monaco physios has had the opposite effect on the Savidan — a player for whom fitness was rarely a problem.

“Unfortunately, signing for Monaco is no longer possible,” Savidan was forced to announce over the weekend. “The tests show there is a cardiac anomaly that has recently appeared. It is a real mental blow. It is likely that the doctors will not let me pursue my career.”

If Caen had not been relegated, if Savidan had not been forced to move to keep his slim international hopes alive, then perhaps he would have continued played — ignorant to the perilous danger he was in.

But throughout his career Savidan has not had much time for “what ifs”. He’s just dealt with problems as they arise. And he is well-versed in overcoming adversity.

After all, football hasn’t always been kind to him.

Barely five years ago, Savidan was supplementing his measly income with non-league Angoulême by working a number of menial jobs. One of those was as a binman — a fact that would mar the headlines he would subsequently make throughout his career.

Angoulême was his sixth club. Having already failed to make an impact at the previous five, it looked likely that striker had a better chance of making a living from emptying the trash than scoring goals.

Savidan would prove the doubters, and to an extent himself, wrong however, as he suddenly found his goalscoring touch (12 in 37 games) with the lowly side.

“I am proof that the system doesn’t always work,” said Savidan recently. “I was born at the wrong time. I’m from the same generation as Henry and Anelka [he is the same age as both men] and when they were coming through you had to be well over six-foot to be picked for youth schemes. I’m quite a bit under six-foot.”

A move to Valenciennes — a once respectable side, who had fallen out of the top divisions — materialized, and it was there that the 5’9” Savidan discovered it was his head — his heart had never been in question — that had held his career back.

“Whenever I was given a chance in the past I didn’t take it,” Savidan later said. “It’s possible that I destroyed myself. Very possible, in fact. You could almost say I was suicidal. But then I was analysed and helped by the right people, specifically a psychiatrist at Angers and a GP at Valenciennes.”

Mentally more assured, Savidan proceeded to shoot his new team to two promotions in succession, back into France’s top division, Ligue 1.

Savidan: Have boots (and goalscoring touch), will travel...

Savidan: Have boots (and goalscoring touch), will travel...

There, his goalscoring touch did not desert him, and he proceeded to score 25 goals over two seasons for unfashionable Valenciennes, including four in one game past the World Cup winning goalkeeper Fabien Barthez.

At the end of the 2007-08 season, Caen came calling and bought the former binman for €5m.

Savidan just kept scoring.

Soon, talk of an international call-up began to emerge. By now a 30-year-old, Savidan held little hope of such a dream materializing so late in his career. The last French player to earn his debut at 30 was Franck Juretti in 2005, and his international career lasted just 10 seconds.

The last Caen player to be called up to the French squad was in 1992.

But that didn’t stop him imploring coach Raymond Domenech to consider it.

“Imagine if it works,” Savidan said during an interview in 2008. “Imagine if I hit two goals just like I’ve dreamed of doing since I was a kid. Where’s the risk in trying? If I don’t fit in, I’ll toddle back to where I came from and you can say ‘see, I told you he wasn’t up to it.'”

Whether it was the impassioned speech or his impressive goalscoring record that did the job, Savidan got his wish as Domenech called the striker up for France’s friendly against Uruguay.

In the second half, Savidan would achieve his ambition as he made his international debut in front of 79,000 at Stade de France. But there would not be the realization of the two-goal dream he had since childhood, as the game finished 0-0.

It would be Savidan’s only international appearance.

But then, one is always better than none.

Only a week ago, the spectre of undiscovered heart defects was brought sharply into focus as the Confederations Cup final become a stage to remember the death of Cameroon international Marc-Vivien Foe, who died of a heart-attack on the pitch, aged just 27.

Foe’s death, along with that of Hungarian Miklos Feher, made FIFA sit up and realise something had to be done to prevent such fatalities in future.

Savidan’s situation proves that such testing is getting better and prevention is becoming the norm, but hopefully it will also encourage FIFA to realise that they cannot rest on their laurels, that players of all ages and at all levels should have the opportunity to be tested against such life-threatening problems.

With his career brought to an abrupt halt, at least Savidan can look back with pride on what he managed to achieve, overcoming the odds.

And at least he will live to face the challenges of another day, whatever it may bring.

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July 6, 2009 - Posted by | Sport, World Football | ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] This post was Twitted by ErnestNY […]

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