Sometimes you get used to people being part of the landscape, their presence is a constant, immutable and irreversible. Sport gives that illusion from time to time, only for time itself to enjoy the last laugh.
The outpouring of sadness that greets footballers leaving the stage for the last time seems to be most poignant in Italy, perhaps the increased longevity, perhaps the more universal acclaim tearing up supporters more than elsewhere.
Fans of the Azzurri may well find themselves saying farewell to another sporting legend this year, as Federica Pellegrini has intimated that she may be on the verge of hanging up her swimming costume one final time.
“My heart is telling me to stop after too many personal disappointments out of the pool,” she recently confessed, “on the other hand, my head wants me to continue. By Autumn I will decide what to do with my life permanently.”