Celtic star Nir Bitton has taken part in an exclusive interview with The Scottish Sun and opened up on his recent COVID-19 diagnosis.
As the ongoing pandemic has developed around the world, much of the focus has been put on how it impacts older generations.
Rightly so, of course, given they are the most at-risk population group.
However, Bitton’s comments bring home that this is an illness that can be a real problem for even super-fit athletes like the Israeli international.
He told The Scottish Sun: “I went through some hard days with this virus. It wasn’t easy at all. Before I got the disease I underestimated it, but it was not pleasant.
“I had headaches, my muscles ached and I could not stand up. I had to sit. You do not know what you are heading towards.
“Everyone knows how the disease starts, but not how it ends. If it affected me, a young and athletic guy, I do not know how it affects older people.
“We see deaths and I need to say to people, watch out. Stay at home and look after your relatives. This is not an easy disease. I am still without taste and smell, but I hope it will come back soon and that the hardships are behind me.”
Bitton’s comments should serve as a stark warning to Celtic ahead of upcoming international breaks.
If it’s at all possible, without breaching FIFA and UEFA rules, to keep players at the club or ask them to withdraw voluntarily, then that’s what should happen.
The Celtic defender goes on to state in the interview that the international break undoubtedly caused the issues, with Celtic’s current protocols very strict.
Players meeting up from different social groups and countries is a recipe for disaster.
There’s no telling now when Bitton will be ready for action, and he has to undergo a series of tests before getting the opportunity to train and play.
We can’t afford many more of our first-team squad to be struck down by the virus and if that means keeping them at home instead of playing for their country, then so be it.