COVID-19 impact: Footballers stranded in foreign lands learn to live sans the game

Updated: Mar 30, 2020, 07:53 IST | AFP | London

Footballers' daily routines have been upended with no games to play for the foreseeable future and training sessions now conducted alone at home or via video-conferencing to maintain some semblance of team spirit

Pedro
Pedro

The riches, glamour and glory of playing football in front of packed stadiums attracts the world's top players across borders but with the European game in lockdown, many have been left isolated from their families. Coronavirus has forced governments across Europe to impose restrictions on travel and personal freedoms. Footballers' daily routines have been upended with no games to play for the foreseeable future and training sessions now conducted alone at home or via video-conferencing to maintain some semblance of team spirit.

"It is a way to keep in contact with each other, to start a little bit of routine because I think that is important," said Brighton manager Graham Potter. "Our guys are all here in the UK. That is why it is important for us to keep in contact and regular dialogue and make sure everyone is alright. They are away from families, they are missing families and that is something we understand. We sympathise with that, but we felt it was right to limit international travel and to stay at home and be safe."

Other clubs allowed their stars to jet home. PSG's Neymar and Thiago Silva returned to Brazil and Edinson Cavani headed to Uruguay. By contrast, Chelsea's Spanish winger Pedro Rodriguez was stuck in London as he and the rest of the Blues squad were forced into self-isolation when teammate Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive. "It's hard not to be able to see my children," said Pedro Rodriguez, whose children live in Barcelona, told Spanish radio station Cadena SER. "I imagine there are many people like me. I tell them to stay in the house and that I miss them."

For others, the greatest concern is filling time and the void left by no football. "I am obviously a little bored since two weeks have passed since the beginning of the quarantine at home," Juventus' Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny told Sky Sport Italia. "I am alone in Turin because my family went to Poland. Having said that, however, I must say that I am having a peaceful time. I sleep a lot."

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