I think I’ve had coronavirus reveals Stoke City legend


Stoke City legend Denis Smith believes he has already been struck down by coronavirus.

He says it was an unpleasant experience that lasted a fortnight and was characterised by a severe and incessant cough.

But the 72 year-old is now back to full health after being laid low by illness in February.

“I didn’t realise it at the time, didn’t make the connection,” he says, “but if it wasn’t coronavirus then it was its twin brother because I had all the symptoms.

“It also lasted two weeks, as they said, and although there wasn’t any pain as such, it was very irritating.

“I would describe it as a very unpleasant experience.”

Smith and his 50 year-old son Paul – who displayed exactly the same symptoms and went through the illness himself – were both taken ill after a trip to York, where he says early cases were identified.

“I’d met my son up there for a supporters club meeting on February 7 to mark the move of ground for York City,” recalls the one-time York manager.

“The meeting was in a hotel, but York itself always has a lot of overseas visitors and it was one of the first places here to report a case.

“Paul had exactly the same as me and he is convinced it was coronavirus as well.”

Smith, who lives with wife Kate in Rough Close, says he was taken ill three days after the get-together in York.

“I’m never normally ill, so it was all very unusual and at the time I just thought it was a bad case of flu or something.

“I was in bed for a day and the rest of the time stayed in the house.

Denis Smith is mobbed by pitch-invading supporters after Stoke City beat West Brom to stay up on May 20, 1982.

“I had a temperature, but the main thing was the cough, it was nothing like I’d had before. 

“You weren’t bringing anything up, just constantly coughing. I couldn’t have had this conversation with you on the phone because I’d have been coughing too much.

“I suppose it was like a smoker’s cough, though I’ve never smoked.

“I couldn’t sleep properly as a result and felt wiped out for a while.

“Because of the coughing, Kate moved into another bedroom and without knowing it she effectively self isolated. She either didn’t catch it, or if she did, the symptoms were too mild for us to have noticed.

“My eating was all right, although I did feel a bit sick at times, it was just the coughing mainly.

“Cough mixtures were no good, but honey and lemon seemed to work for a bit.”

He says he hopes his experience both reminds people of the dangers of coronavirus and the importance of containing the disease, but also reassures older people that they can get through it if they are hit.

“You know you’ve been ill, but I’m fortunate that I’m healthy apart from my joints,” said Smith, whose managerial career included Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion, Oxford and Wrexham.

“I would be amazed if nobody, at this stage, is taking this threat seriously because it clearly is a real threat.

“But at the same time, I want people to know that if it was coronavirus that I had, and I’m pretty sure it was, then you can recover… and make a full recovery.”





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