Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini has revealed that he faced his own battle with COVID-19 and that he had been feeling ill around the time of their Champions League meeting with Valencia.
La Dea’s first leg win over the La Liga side on February 19 in Milan has been considered by many, including Bergamo’s mayor, as a ‘biological bomb’ in the virus’ spread in Northern Italy, but it wasn’t until the time of the second leg on March 10 that the Nerazzurri boss was noticing symptoms.
“I had coronavirus. I felt bad before Valencia and even worse on the day of the mach,” Gasperini told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“[I had] no fever, but it was a mess. They never did a PCR test (Polymerase chain reaction), although the serological [test] confirmed that I had the disease.
“After Valencia, in the following two nights in Zingonia I slept very little. I did not have a fever, but my body ached and outside it seemed to be like a war: every two minutes, an ambulance passed with sirens on.
“We were sent 25 colombe (traditional Easter cakes in Italy) and Dom Perignon and when I tasted it I said: ‘But this is water.’ Tullio (Gritti, Gasperini’s assistant) said: ‘Seriously? It’s delightful.’
“The colomba looked like bread to me. I had lost my taste so Tullio and Marcello, our physiotherapist, ate 25 cakes.
“Serological tests taken a couple of weeks ago confirmed I had COVID-19.
Bergamo has been Italy’s hardest hit region by the spread of the disease and Gasperini says that the change of atmosphere is noticeable around the city.
“Sad and dignified,” he responded when asked how the city felt.
“There’s a deep, thick sadness that you feel everywhere. On the street, [you see it] in the eyes of the people, in the bars and restaurants that are slowly reopening, and in the silence of my colleague who has lost his father.
“Everyone is moving forward, with strength and pain. It will take years to truly understand what happened, because right here was the centre of evil.
“Every time I think about it it seems absurd. The historic peak of sporting happiness coincided with the city’s greatest pain. Today I feel even more Bergamasco.”
Serie A is now set to return on June 19 with Gasperini’s Atalanta taking on Sassuolo and the coach believes that it is time for football to get underway again.
“Some people think it’s immoral but, after what has happened, it’s the only way to return to normality,” said the 62-year-old.
“The only things that I’m not keen on are having five substitutes and playing behind closed doors.”