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Interviews

PAUL ON COVID-19 IN FOOTBALL

15 January 2021

Boss on recovering from virus, a ramp up on testing and the prospect of football continuing in the UK

Paul Lambert is still feeling the effects of Covid-19, nearly a month on from testing positive for the virus.

The Town boss was one of 11 positive cases at the Club before Christmas, Blues seeing four games called off over the festive period.

Paul watched last weekend's game with Swindon from a box at Portman Road as Stuart Taylor and Matt Gill took charge on the touchline.

"I wouldn’t say I’m 100% but I feel better than I did, that's for sure," Paul told the Club website.

"I still feel tired and I get a headache every now and again. I think I had it quite badly but I consider my fortunate as there are people that have died of course.

"Last week against Swindon; I know the game kicked off later but I was falling asleep in the afternoon which is certainly not like me. I said to the coaches that you need to take it, I can’t take it.

"I knew I had it but I didn’t know the extremes of the effects that would happen. I had headaches, loss of smell, lose of taste - I still can’t smell but I can taste.

"The temperature going down, the lack of oxygen; that was a worry. I don’t think I was too far away from going to hospital which wasn’t great to hear.

"The headaches were excruciating. It was terrible. I’ve not felt like that before. Every passing day I thought it’d get better, I seemed to be getting worse. 

"You need your strength to fight it. I’m relatively fit but I’m 51 now, not 21 or 31. I don’t play football anymore even though I was an athlete if you want to call it that. I can’t imagine what it’s like when you’re in the elderly generation."

Stuart Taylor vs Swindon.jpg

Last week, the EFL and PFA (Professional Footballers' Association) confirmed that they will be introducing twice-weekly Covid-19 testing for the 72 clubs in the Football League, funded by the PFA.

Designed to work alongside strict matchday and non-matchday protocols, Paul says that testing outside of the Premier League was long overdue whilst also emphasising that vaccinations should be prioritised for the vulnerable and front line workers over professional athletes.

"Why did it [the testing] take so long? [Is it] just to get us to finish the season and say thank god we finished the season? You’re talking about people’s lives here.

"How are we different from the Premier League? There’s the financial aspect but we’re human beings and we have to be tested. These guys have got young families and parents.

"If they’re asked to play then we should look at that [the vaccines], because we're rolling out every few days expected to play football.

"But, they should never be prioritised over the NHS or care workers. Never in a million years should that happen.

"They have to find some sort of protection but it should never be ahead of NHS, care workers or the elderly. That should never come into fruition."

Ball being disinfected vs West Ham.jpg

The UK continues to record a significant number of new cases with hospitals under increasing pressure following the outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus. 

Sadly, the country also recorded its highest daily death toll since the beginning of the pandemic earlier this week.

With the population having returned to a national lockdown, Paul questions whether professional football should continue.

"Morally, it’s wrong to play it," he continued.

"There are people dying. We're asking people to stay at home and shield then we're asking other people to go and play football all over the country.

"There are too many rules coming into it. We're telling players to not celebrate but then be touch-tight at corners and making tackles and challenging for headers.

"Who is protecting the players? They’re human. I just think it’s wrong that we’re asked to do it because there’s cases left, right and centre.

"We’re in a situation worldwide where everything is shutting down and people are losing jobs. People haven’t seen their families in months or nearly a year so why are we being asked to go and travel?

"We're actually being asked to go to stadiums and play, and one of the main thoughts of a player or a member of staff is 'I hope I don't get the virus'.

"I know people want the season finished. If you look at football, it’s absolutely riddled with it but we’re still asked to go and play and try to entertain. There’s no crowd, it’s a false game.

"Will it [the season] get finished? I really don’t know. If the infection rates keep going then I don’t see how it can.

"There are more important things in life than football. This shouldn't be about getting football back to normal, it should be about getting life back to normal."


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