Michael O’Neill is proud of how Stoke City have embraced their role in the community in a time of crisis.
The bet365 Stadium should have been hosting its final home game of the season tomorrow, against Brentford, but instead it has become a coronavirus testing centre for the Potteries.
The ground became a drive-through NHS station this week, with NHS and council staff, emergency workers, carers and teachers all eligible for pre-booked tests.
That comes after Stoke stars have been donating to hospitals, charities and hospices or helping however they can while the Denise Coates Foundation gave £10m to Royal Stoke and the County Hospital, Stafford.
Players, coaches and staff have also been ringing up supporters in self-isolation.
Manager O’Neill said: “One of the things I’ve really come to see is just how important Stoke City is in the community. There is a very strong identity within the community and a very strong fanbase.
“In situations like this it’s up to football clubs to show what they are made of in terms of what they can do to help. Certainly as a club, Stoke have stepped up and whatever way we can help going forward is important.
“The people in the NHS have done magnificent work and it’s very humbling to see. They are going off to work every day while we are sitting in our homes feeling very guilty about the whole situation.
“As a football club there are so many things that Stoke do in the community so well and that will continue.”
He added: “It’s very surreal (to the stadium as it is). I’ve been back up with Scotland with family and I’ve not been able to be around the stadium and training facilities and it’s been very strange being away.
“We look forward to getting back as soon as possible.”