June 14, 2016

The Soccer Player Who Became Paralyzed and Was Baptized Orthodox

Mihai Nesu was seriously injured on 10 May 2011 in a training session at the Dutch province of Utrecht. He collided with teammate Alje Schut and fractured a vertebrae in the cervical spine.

Nesu was left paralyzed from the neck down. At first he could move nothing but his eyelids. Then he started talking and slowly began to move his right arm. With this he can handle his wheelchair. From February 2012 he has been able to move his left hand.

Until 10 May 2011 Mihai Nesu played for Steaua Bucuresti and Utrecht for three years. His first season he was nominated for the title of best left-backs of the Dutch championship along with Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Urby Emanuelson. He was proclaimed best left-back. Nesu also played in the Romanian national team eight times.

After the accident that left him paralyzed, Mihai's wife left him and his parents died.

Three years ago Mihai Nesu made an important life decision which he kept a secret until a few days ago. He was baptized Orthodox.

"Two and a half years since my accident I decided to be baptized Orthodox. I don't know exactly why this happened to me, but it helped me discover my true self," said the former defender on the television channel of the Romanian Patriarchate "Trinitas".

Mihai Nesu, who was a Pentecostal, confessed that he understands the accident that happened to him as being something positive: "Before I had done perhaps a few good things, but then the accident happened. Even if the world sees it upon first observation as a tragedy, a curse, it can be turned into a blessing."

"My greatest wish was to become a soccer player. My second wish was to acquire a lot of money. What I would have done with it, I don't know, nor do I understand even now."

From the time of his accident he quickly began to view it as a new step in his life, but now there also is his faith in God:

"I don't know why this happened to me. But it helped me discover myself, who I really am and not who I wanted to appear to be. What happens to me every day makes me go back from where we all began, namely to God. It's as if it doesn't bother you that you are in a wheelchair and you feel you have the same odds with the rest of the world, rich and poor, healthy and sick.

I believe God gave me many gifts which I did not use. My mind was on soccer and all the rest I threw in the trash. I had talent in painting, having completed the Art Lyceum. But I did not give it my proper attention, because my mind was in soccer.

On the field I was tough, but at home I was like a lamb. I wanted to prove to everyone that even though I was so small and weak, I could match up against anyone as an equal. I disclosed my will. The people liked it, though I don't know how useful it was to me, but people loved me for it."

Alje Schut and Mihai Nesu

Nesu also narrates the moments he felt despair and how he became a Christian believer:

"To most people soccer players do not give the impression as being people with metaphysical concerns, but I had teammates and friends, soccer players, who had great faith. Because of them I followed this path. Two years after my accident I decided to be baptized Orthodox. After two years of searching, asking questions and visiting shrines (among which was Vatopaidi Monastery at the instigation of the owner of Steaua Bucuresti, Gigi Becali), I began to like this world. I like to read, I like to discuss things with elders in monasteries.

After the accident I asked many questions. 'Why?' was my favorite question. 'Why me?' After my first confession it opened a window. I thought of myself as someone important and then I wondered what I should do now.

Through my accident God wanted to do something good with my life. And if the whole world sees the accident as a curse, it can be turned into a blessing.

Though my pain is great I also feel great joy. When I feel bad I call my spiritual father and he says to me: 'Come, get up now.'

Whatever happens in our lives is not by chance. There is some reason for it. When a psychologist came to me after the accident I kicked him out a week later. It seemed to me that he needed a psychologist, not me. I believe in something else. In friendship. A true friend, who loves unconditionally, has more to tell me than a psychologist."

In another interview, when Mihai was saying goodbye to the reporter, he said: "Farewell, and remember: In life few things are important - believe, love and give yourself to others."

As for Alje Schut, the player with whom he collided in training, he said in an interview:

"Nothing is the same. Whatever happened changed me. There is not a day when I do not think of Mihai. Even before I sleep I think of him. I think of him also when I wake up. I'm not religious, but now I pray to God every day to make him well."

Mihai Nesu has established a foundation for children with physical disabilities:

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.