Former Stoke City footballer Asmir Begovic – who is currently on loan at AC Milan – has revealed what life is like in virus hit Italy.
The Bournemouth goalkeeper is among millions on lockdown with Milan being the worst affected city in Italy – the worst affected country in Europe.
The 32-year-old told The Mirror : “The streets are deserted. The only thing open are supermarkets. You can get a little bit of food and then it’s straight back to your home. It’s crazy.
“It’s a big city, I live in the city and you think it’s a movie. People have said it’s like a movie scene and it really is. I’ve never seen anything like it before. I’m not sure people understand how bad it is here.
“It’s hit Italy very hard. What the reason is for that I don’t know – maybe the medicine side of things.
“But it’s hit the country hard. You feel for the country, with a lot of deaths and people being infected. It’s devastating and heartbreaking for the people.
“Now you see other clubs, fellow players getting it and it feels like a nightmare and you can only hope that everything goes back to normal as soon as possible.”
No-one to date has tested positive at AC Milan but Begovic revealed how quickly things escalated and what it is like for a footballer when there is no football to be played.
He said: “It was one thing after the next. It was literally happening daily, things developed so quickly from games being on, to games behind closed doors and then games are off.
“There was a debate as to whether we should play at all. We played behind closed doors, which wasn’t a great experience at all.
“Then the next day we were in, then we were off and then everything was shut down. It happened so quickly. This week has been the climax.
“Then you’re in lockdown. The whole city in lockdown, no restaurants past 6pm and now everything’s closed. It literally happened so quickly, one step after another.
StokeonTrentLive has created a dedicated group on Facebook for COVID 19 (coronavirus) updates. Join for sensible, accurate and informed updates – click here.
It’s just a waiting game at the moment.
“We’re not training now. We’re not due back until the 23rd at the moment but that looks as if it might get changed and extended.
“No-one has tested positive at Milan. Now they’ve sent us away and said: ‘we’ll see you when we see you.’
“Those are the measures that people have to take, they are the orders and we obey them and that’s it.
“It’s so strange not being able to train. You try to do other things but there’s only so much Netflix you can watch.
“I try to keep busy, I’m trying to record some podcasts, keep myself ticking over and to not get down too much and patiently wait for normality to resume.”
After a frustrating couple of years at Bournemouth, Begovic admitted he had “rekindled his fire and love” of the game, first at Qarabag in Azerbaijan and now back at the very top with AC Milan.
He has also always been a deep thinker, as well as a good talker and believes football must have a strong voice to help society as a whole and bring joy back to the people when the current health crisis allows.
“Football has such an important voice,” he said.
“Sport in general has such a power in our world today. It can really bring people together. It can cause issues too. But in difficult times like this, football can really use its power to have a really positive spin.
“It can bring the joy back to people. It’s a way of life, people love football and it’s a really good way of being able to use that power and strength in a really positive way.”