Nigeria international and Brighton & Hove Albion City player, Leon Balogun, has been speaking with ‘The Players’ Tribune’ in an article titled “Leon Don’t Preach” where he revealed his Covid-19 scare just before the Premier League was suspended.
According to the Premier League star, ‘A few weeks ago, I had a bit of drama, though’.
‘On the last day of February”, he continued “I was playing for Wigan away to West Bromwich Albion when I got subbed off with 20 minutes left. I wasn’t feeling well. Nothing I took was helping, so I just said, “O.K., maybe I’m just a bit off.” When I had arrived at Wigan earlier that month, I had not played regularly for my club, Brighton, in a while — and then after I came to Wigan I played four games in 15 days. Maybe I was just feeling fatigue’?
The Super Eagles star continued his narration, ‘I recovered and played our next game, at home to Luton, on 7 March. By then the virus had spread from China to Europe. When I first heard about the virus I was like, “Oh no, it’s another outbreak in China” — because they had already had SARS. When it spread to Italy, Spain and Germany, I began to get really worried. Still, I didn’t really think it was going to affect me, too. I have a friend who lost people close to him during the terrorist attack in Paris, and he once told me, “Bro, everything seems so far away until it hits you or someone close to you. That’s when you realise that, actually, it’s just around the corner.”’
‘He was right. What made me really wake up to the virus was that it began to affect football. Games in Italy were being called off and played behind closed doors. Then one day I walked into the training ground at Wigan and saw that there were way more hand sanitisers around than usual. That’s when I knew that, sooner or later, this was going to affect us all’.
‘The week after we played Luton, the virus was forcing games in the Champions League and the Europa League to be called off. We were preparing to play away to Huddersfield 14 March. On the Wednesday before the game I began to feel unwell. I was thinking, This is odd. Did I not just go through this? I shouldn’t be feeling like this again.
Could I have caught the virus? I had recently taken the train from London to Manchester. Had something happened on the train?
On the Thursday I felt O.K., but still not 100%. When I woke up on Friday morning, the lymph nodes under my arms were swollen. I felt off. I went into training without shaking anyone’s hand, just in case I had the virus. The night before, Mikel Arteta, the Arsenal coach, had tested positive. When the medical staff saw me they said, “Mate, just go home. The games are gonna get called off anyway.”’
‘I went home and tried to relax. I called my teammates. None of them knew what was going on. A few hours later there was a statement from the Premier League and the Championship: All games that weekend were off.
Over the next few days I felt ill. I had a slight fever, I was coughing. But it was nothing crazy. So yeah … in the end I was not too worried.
But I was never tested. Did I have it or not?
I still don’t know.
Luckily I am feeling fine now. I do miss the football though’.