Coronavirus: Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta opens up on illness
"You start to think about the people that you've been in contact with," explains Arteta; "I encourage everybody please to be responsible and stay at home"
Last Updated: 27/03/20 1:20pm
Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta has pleaded with the public to help the NHS by staying at home after confirming that he is feeling "completely recovered" following a positive test for the coronavirus.
Arteta tested positive for the virus on March 12, with his diagnosis hastening a suspension on top-level English football, which will remain in pace until at least April 30 due to the ongoing pandemic.
The 37-year-old Spaniard positive test was confirmed shortly after that of Olympiakos owner Evangelos Marinakis, who came into contact with Arsenal players after the sides played in the Europa League two weeks earlier.
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"I am feeling completely recovered," Arteta told Arsenal's official website.
"It's true I started having some symptoms when we got the phone call from the club to let us know that we might be exposed to the virus because of the owner of Olympiacos and in that moment... I don't know, I felt something within me, that I had it.
I felt something within me, that I had it.
"We had a game the following day against Manchester City, so I made a decision and called the doctor straight away and I asked him to drive home.
"I said, 'Listen, we have a couple of players that have been exposed. There is a massive risk there and as well I am the first one feeling the symptoms, very clear symptoms. So if that is the case, all of the players and the people related to the club who are in contact with me on a daily basis are exposed. So we cannot make that decision, we have to speak to the Premier League, to Manchester City and we have to make the decision pretty quickly.'"
Having gone through what he describes as a difficult few days, suffering symptoms including a temperature, dry cough and chest discomfort, Arteta admitted catching the illness brought about anxiety of having spread it.
"You realise, 'wow, everybody can be exposed here, this is very serious' and you start to think about the people that you've been in contact with and the other people that can be related to us. That's when a bit of fear comes."
'We have to try to help the NHS'
With Arsenal's return to training delayed amid the government's instruction for the public to stay at home where possible, Arteta has urged fans to follow the club's example.
"Please to everybody, we are a little bit behind other countries, for example Spain, where I know the situation they are living at the moment, and while we are having the opportunity a little bit to minimise the risk, I encourage everybody please to be responsible and stay at home as much as possible," Arteta said.
"That is all we can do from our position, we don't have the ability to help others in other circumstances, so please at least stay at home and do what is required.
"We have to try to help the NHS as much as possible and we have to give the opportunity to the elderly people who needs this more than anybody else to get the treatment they require. We have to slow the process down and the virus down, so please stay at home."
'Lots of homework for players'
Before the Premier League was suspended, Arteta had overseen an eight-match unbeaten run that had lifted his side to within eight points of fourth-placed Chelsea, with a game in hand on their London rivals.
While it remains unclear in what format or stage the Premier League will resume, Arteta explained the steps he's taking to ensure his side are ready when that moment arrives.
"We're just trying to cover all the necessities that players, staff and employees need to try to sustain the club with healthy people," said Arteta, who took over from Unai Emery in December.
"They all have programmes and they all have individual work to do that they are really doing and really trying to maintain themselves so they can prepare themselves for when we have to get back playing.
"There is the psychological support that they need, which we are giving them, and as well I'm giving them a lot of homework to do because I've been reviewing everything that we've been doing since I joined."