Haller: a champion’s triumph hits home 

By Razeen Gutta

An unlikely Africa Cup of Nations title win came at home for the Ivory Coast in the most heartwarming manner as Sebastien Haller netted the winner just a year after overcoming testicular cancer.

After only just qualifying for the knockout stages as one of the best third-placed sides, the Elephants were initially very close to group-stage elimination. 

Haller’s presence at the competition came exactly a year after his return to the game. 

After being diagnosed with cancer in July 2022, the former West Ham United player scored his first goal for Borussia Dortmund on World Cancer Day last year. His recovery followed two surgeries and several rounds of chemotherapy. 

Haller joined the Ivory Coast squad late in the competition after he recovered from injury. His impact, however, was instant. 

After scoring his penalty in the last-16 shootout against Senegal, he also went on to score in his first start – the semi-final clash against DR Congo.

It was in the interview following his winner against Nigeria on Sunday that the triumph hit home, though. 

“We dreamed of this moment so many times,” Haller said pitchside, overwhelmed by his emotions.

“We hoped to get to this point and once again the match wasn’t an easy one. The joyous scenes we see now, what’s happening in the country, they deserve it too. I really hope it does a lot of people good.”

Former Ivory Coast international Kolo Toure was all praise for the striker: “I am so happy for Haller. He went through a tough time but he did unbelievably for the team,” the former Manchester City and Liverpool player said. 

“He is a humble man, and he works hard for the team. He is just someone who wants to help his teammates. I am so happy he scored that goal – it is fantastic for him and the country.”

Pictured above: Sebastien Haller.

Image source: @caf_online 


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