Former Rangers striker Marco Negri revealed that he felt forced to quit the Scottish club, after developing fears that he had contracted AIDS, the Daily Mail reports.
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The Italian joined the club from Perugia in 1997, in a deal worth £3.5m, and made an incredible impact at Ibrox. In his first ten games, Negri bagged twenty-three goals. He would go on to make thirty appearances for the club, and would score thirty-goals.
Despite being a lethal striker for the side, his career in Glasgow petered out – before his permanent departure for Bologna in 2001 – due to injuries. It was his final injury at the club that gave the forward the most concern.
In November 2000, Negri was featuring in a reserve game against Aberdeen, when a heavy challenge led to his shin bleeding heavily. After tests and treatment, it was suggested that no lasting damage had been done, and he returned to training early in the next year.
However, he was soon in agony, and went back to hospital. This time, the tests showed something more worrying, as they suggested that his blood had come under attack from a lymphogranuloma – a symptom found commonly in those who suffer from AIDS.
Negri admitted he struggled to accept the possibility that he may have caught the disease.
“I hadn’t even considered the possibility of being HIV positive but the harsh reality was there in front of me in the medical report, and it was hard to ignore and digest,” he explained.
As he became aware of what he was facing, he decided that his time in Scotland was over, and tried to engineer a move back home to be with his family.
“I didn’t feel able to deal with such a thing alone. I needed my family around me and wanted to undergo further tests in Italy to understand exactly what was going on, the risks and chances of recovery.
“I had to return to Italy, and not on a temporary basis. I asked my lawyer to speak to Rangers about an early dissolution of my contract,” he added.
Luckily for Negri, a second opinion in Italy suggested that the initial diagnosis had been wrong, and he received the all-clear.