“The day before the match in Valencia, I was sick. The afternoon before the match, even worse. I didn't look good on the bench, ” said Gian Piero Gasperini, Atalanta Bergamo coach. Atalanta had beaten the Spanish team 4-3 for this round of 16 return behind closed doors which had enabled the club of Bergamo to pass in the quarterfinals for its first participation in C1.
The coronavirus was already spreading in Europe and was wreaking havoc in northern Italy, especially in Bergamo, which was one of the cities hardest hit by the pandemic. “It was March 10. The next two nights in Zingonia (Atalanta training center, note) I slept little. I did not have a fever but I felt exhausted, as if I had 40 of fever ” , tells Gasperini, 62 years old. And to tell: “An ambulance passed every two minutes. There is a hospital next door. We thought we were in a country at war. In the evening, I thought '' if I go there, what will happen to me? '' ' I can't go now, I have so much to do ... I said so laughing, to lighten things up. But I really meant it ", says the coach.
"Atalanta can help Bergamo to start again"Gian Piero Gasperini
Having no fever, Gasperini was not hospitalized and only did a test 10 days ago, confirming that he had had Covid-19. It was only four days after the match in Valencia that his condition started to improve, but he then lost his taste, one of the symptoms of the disease. A meal accompanied by a vintage Dom Pérignon sent by a starred chef seemed to him like "bread and water" , he recalls.
Bergamo, in Lombardy, suffered greatly from the Covid-19 pandemic. The Atalanta's first leg against Valencia (won 4-1), which caused 40,000 Bergamo supporters to move to Milan where the match was contested, was pointed out by several experts as a major source of contamination. "Whenever I think about it, I find it absurd: the culmination of sporting happiness has coincided with the greatest plague in our city" , philosopher Gasperini.
The coach is not opposed to a resumption of the Italian Championship, scheduled for June 20. “Some people find it immoral to resume. I saw people singing on their balconies while in Bergamo, coffins were piled up in trucks. I didn't find it "immoral", I considered it as an instinctive reaction, an attempt to cling to life, "he explains. "Atalanta can help Bergamo get away," he says. The Bergamo team is fourth in Serie A with 48 points, 15 less than the leading Juventus Turin.
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