Ex-soccer stars recover from Wuhan coronavirus

In early to mid March, the English Premier League was planning to keep playing soccer matches in front of spectators when it learned that Mikel Arteta, Arsenal’s manager, had contracted the Wuhan coronavirus. Shortly thereafter, the EPL postponed its season. The season remains on hold.

Arteta’s case was of interest to me because, as a star midfielder for Everton, he was one of my favorite players. Therefore, I’m extra happy to report that the artful Spaniard has fully recovered.

Of his experience with the virus, Arteta says:

I got a call from the board of directors after training while I was in my car and they told me the president of Olympiakos [a Greek club that Arsenal played in European competition] had tested positive, and everyone who had been in contact was at risk.

I went on to tell them that I wasn’t feeling well and that we had a situation because we had lots of players that had been in contact with [Olympiakos team and staff members].

We had a game against Manchester City the next day and obviously we couldn’t put lots of people at risk without saying anything. Obviously all those who had been in contact with me had to go into quarantine, and consequently games had to be suspended.

As far as I know, Arteta is the only Arsenal man who has tested positive for the illness.

Arteta says it took him “three or four days to start feeling better, with more energy, to leave the symptoms behind.” He is only 37, so his prospects for a full recovery were always good.

Clive Allen, a former star for Arsenal’s North London rival, Tottenham Hotspur, also contracted the virus. Allen is 58 years old, and thus in a higher risk category than Arteta. Fortunately, the one-time goal machine seems to have come through the experience okay.

Here is Allen’s report on his bout with the virus:

Over two or three days it took hold and I felt unwell for five days, one day particularly so. I had quite a nasty headache which I never get. It was vice-like around my head.

After I began to feel better, I had a dry cough for about three days. Because there was information about the illness I called 111 and they said they’d call me back within two or three days, which they did.

They came three or four days later and tested me at my house. Health England arranged it and the lady came and swabbed my nose and my mouth. She went away and I got the positive result five days later.

I thought I had a bad attack of flu but obviously – due to the timing of it – I was a little bit concerned because there was a lot being talked about the coronavirus.

So far, I’m aware of only one death from the virus in the soccer world — that of former Real Madrid club president Lorenzo Sanz. He was 76 years old. I assume there are others (e.g., in Iran perhaps), but Sanz’s death is the only one I have seen reported.

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