Atalanta manager Gian Piero Gasperini said he was ill before his side’s Champions League round-of-16 second-leg clash in Valencia and that later tests showed he had contracted coronavirus.
The Serie A side are based in Bergamo, which has been the worst-hit region in terms of coronavirus deaths in Italy, and a leading doctor from the area said their first-leg match with Valencia at the San Siro stadium in Milan had accelerated the spread.
“The night before the match in Valencia I was ill,” Gasperini told La Gazetta dello Sport. “The afternoon of the match, I was even worse.
“On the bench, I was feeling awful. It was March 10. The two previous nights in Zigonia [Bergamo], I didn’t sleep much.
“I wasn’t feverish, but I felt so worn down as if I’d had was 40C (104F). Every two minutes, I’d hear an ambulance go by. There’s a hospital nearby. It felt like wartime.
“At night, I’d think: ‘if I go in there, what will happen to me?’ ‘I can’t go now, I have too much to do.’
“I’d say it jokingly, for exercise. But I would really think it.”
On March 10, the Italian government ordered a total lockdown and that was when football was stopped in the country. In the subsequent days, Gasperini said he began to feel better.
“On Saturday 14 [March], I did a type of extreme workout I hadn’t done for years,” he added. “An hour on the running machine — more than 10km.
“I felt fine, strong. The worst had passed. I stayed in Zingonia for three weeks. Later I went to Turin, always respecting social distancing measures with my wife and children.
“Despite not having a fever, I did the test. Ten days ago, the tests confirmed I had had COVID-19. I have the antibodies, but that does not mean I’m immune.”
Serie A recently announced top-flight football would return in the country from June 20.
The Champions League was stopped midway through the round-of-16 second-leg ties with Atalanta having qualified for the quarterifinals for the first time, and Gasperini said the pain in Bergamo would drive his side on in the competition.