Asmir Begovic on AC Milan's return to training, friendship with Zlatan Ibrahimovic & charity work

"There's a great passion to get the city and the country up and running again."

The words of AC Milan goalkeeper Asmir Begovic. He remains positive amid the pandemic and there finally appears to be light at the end of a long, dark tunnel in Italy.

As the country moves slowly out of lockdown, Begovic is well aware of how everyone must continue to "do the right thing". He has seen clips of a video showing Hertha Berlin forward Salomon Kalou breaking social distancing rules and shaking hands with his team-mates - actions that resulted in Kalou being suspended.

"I don't want to comment too much because I wasn't there," Begovic says. "But of course we have to be responsible. If everyone wants to go back to playing football, we have to do it the right way.

"We have to understand our responsibilities, be respectful and be really smart. That's even more important in Milan - everyone knows how heavy it's been hit. The public here have been incredibly respectful of the guidelines and we are going to be no different".

After two months in lockdown, Begovic is ready to play again.

He sympathises with the view of Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero that the "majority of players are scared because they have family", but admits the prospect of returning makes him feel really good.

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Asmir Begovic has been given the final week of the season off to spend time with his family
Image: Begovic has not ruled out returning to Bournemouth

"I've missed football. I love the game," Begovic adds. "We have got medical tests in the next couple of days and then hopefully we can start training - whether that's in small groups or individually.

"I've no reservations about playing as long as it's done in the right environment. We trust the club and the officials, and nobody is going to put us in harm's way".

Begovic is on loan at Milan from Bournemouth. He's been keeping a close eye on events in England and how they could impact his parent club.

Bournemouth are in the Premier League relegation zone, and five of their remaining nine games are at home.

As the Premier League try to find ways to complete the season, one of the proposals under discussion is to play the matches at neutral venues. Fair or not?

"What's fair and normal is out of the window now," Begovic says. "I would have loved to be in a situation of maybe two months ago, but that's not the case.

"There is a big responsibility on the Premier League and the other top leagues. I would imagine it would be impossible to keep everyone happy".

On a personal level, Begovic is happy at Milan and would welcome the chance to extend his stay beyond the summer.

The price? Constant questions about you know who… "I get asked about Zlatan every single day," he laughs.

"We've built up a nice friendship. We are a couple of the older guys on the team and we can relate to each other in terms of families and kids and stuff.

AC Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates scoring against Inter Milan
Image: Begovic has formed a good friendship with Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic

"As a person, he's a great guy and as a player even better because he holds himself to the highest of standards and he holds his team-mates to those standards. His public persona is very different to the way he is behind closed doors."

Begovic has not ruled out returning to Bournemouth, and says he wants to carry on playing into his 40s. He's well aware football has given him a good lifestyle - a lifestyle which allows him to help others.

"I'm involved in the Players Together scheme, which was set up in England, so that's been fantastic," he says.

"The other thing is the United Nations Refugee Agency. I've been a refugee twice in my life so I understand how difficult it can be. They have approached me about becoming an ambassador and it's something we've stepped up a bit in the last couple of months.

"We've donated and tried to raise awareness. When you think there are 26 million refugees, it's a scary situation".

It's a scary situation in Italy too, but if everyone "does the right thing", Begovic is optimistic brighter times are around the corner.

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