Coronavirus: "Not much has been said about how exposed Valencia were in the Atalanta tie" - Dani Parejo
AS chatted to Dani Parejo, captain at one of the clubs most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and who played in the game against Atalanta - "a biological timebomb".
Dani Parejo attended AS by email while he remains in quarantine along with the rest of the Valencia squad. Valencia are one of the clubs to have been hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic, and Parejo feels that the Champions League tie against Atalanta which went ahead on 19 February - a game since labelled in Italy as “a biological timebomb”, should never have been played due to the risks it posed for players and fans. Parejo, who stressed that Valencia were one of the first Spanish clubs to take action, also sent a message asking everyone to stay at home to prevent the virus from spreading.
How does it feel for a player, especially a captain, when 35% of the first team squad (players and coaching staff) have tested positive for coronavirus?
We have to take it as calmly as we possibly can. The club has done everything it can to avoid more people becoming infected - taking measures even before a state of emergency was declared but even in spite of that, it's been impossible. Now we have to stand by the ones who have been infected, give them encouragement and hope it all turns out ok.
The Valencia squad have had to deal with the Covid-19 virus at first hand since the team returned from Milan. In fact Valencia were the first to adopt self-isolation measures. That didn't stop the virus from spreading. It's clear that the only way of stopping this is by all of us staying at home.
Yes, we have experienced it from close quarters and that's why we are so aware of the dangers. All of Europe needs to learn about what happened in China. Now we have to follow what the authorities tell is and stay at home, which is the safest way to stop the transmission as well as helping all of the doctors, nurses and hospital staff who are putting their lives at risk to save us.
In Italy, scientific experts described the Atalanta-Valencia match as a biological timebomb. Is that close to the mark?
With all due respect, we only comply with what we are asked to do. Talking about it now, with hindsight, wouldn't be right but maybe that match should not have been played. What I am sure of is that the tie was not played under equal conditions.
Did it make you worry about who you might have had contact with, where you were and with who during your time in Milan?
We've had a lot of time to spend thinking about everything we did. Very few people have spoken about how exposed the players and club employees were during that tie.
You've asked your team mates to try and maintain their weight while you are all training alone at home, does that mean you're hoping LaLiga will resume soon and be concluded?
All of us want the rest of the season to be played, but not at any price. Health and safety comes first - for all of us - from the first supporter to the very last player. Once that can be guaranteed, then we'll return. And when we are ready to return, we have to make sure that we are in the best possible shape. That's why we have to look after ourselves while we are out. We have to be responsible and work, eat and rest in the way the club has instructed us to.
What is a typical day in quarantine like for you?
Obviously we have more time than usual so I am trying to make the most of it by being with my kids and my wife to learn new things. I'd like this period of quarantine to be productive for me. We are all going to learn a lot of things about life, but I'd also like to learn more about housekeeping - it's never too late.
On the subject of time. When Euro 2021 comes around you'll be 32, are you worried you might be too old to be considered for the Spain squad in a year's time?
No. I like to look after myself and I think I'm fit enough to keep going for a while yet. Every season, I'm one of the players who ends with the most playing time and luckily, I've been ok with injuries. I hope to end this season at a good level and help the team reach our objective which is to qualify for next season's Champions League. We'll look forward to the new season with the same ambition and hope - with the objectives the club sets and of course, with the hope I'll be at the Euros. If I play well for Valencia, I think I'll have a good chance of making the squad.
There are 11 league games left to play and Valencia are seventh in the table. Do you think the team can secure the last Champions League place?
I have faith in the team, in our ability to fight to reach our objective and if we compete like we know how to, then I think we can o it. Reaching the Champions League positions depends on us because there are five teams who are five points behind with 33 left to play for and a lot of matches between direct rivals. It's not going to be easy but I want to play the next edition of the Champions League and I'm going to give everything I've got to see it happen.
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