Brendan Rodgers has revealed he and his wife Charlotte contracted coronavirus in March and were “really knocked” for three weeks before recovering.
The Leicester manager described suffering a headache unlike any he had felt before, losing his sense of smell and taste and enduring breathing difficulties similar to the altitude problems he encountered when climbing Kilimanjaro in 2016.
Rodgers is the second Premier League manager, after Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta, to have confirmed catching the virus. The 47-year-old said he had symptoms exactly two weeks after Leicester’s last Premier League match, which was at home to Aston Villa on 9 March.
“I wasn’t well and it was later detected I had the virus,” Rodgers said. “A week after that, my wife had it. We spent about three weeks feeling the effects. We were nowhere near as bad as a lot of people but we lost our smell and taste for three weeks, we lost our strength, so I had a little feeling of whatever it must be like. It was tough.
“The strangest thing was the smell and the taste. You’re eating your dinner every day and you could not smell or taste anything. Then you lose your strength, you could hardly walk 10 feet and you were really blowing. I felt similar to climbing Kilimanjaro and you get to a certain altitude, you walk and you really suffer in your breathing. You’re walking 10 to 20 yards and you’re thinking: ‘Goodness me.’
“At the time I hadn’t been tested but you know it’s different. The headache felt like it isolated one side of your head. Your strength gets taken out of you.”
Rodgers and his wife decided they needed to know what they had. They were tested 21 days after feeling the first symptoms. “It’s more ‘Christ, if I don’t have it, I wonder what this is?’ So that’s why we got a test, just to be reassured. It detected we had the antibodies.
“It really did knock you. You come out of it grateful you were fine and that you’ve got your health.”
Rodgers feels back to his best but, given the uncertain science, is not taking it for granted he has immunity. He and everyone else at Leicester, as per the Premier League protocol, are being tested twice a week. He is satisfied sufficient safety measures have been put in place to allow the league to return. Leicester resumed full contact training on Thursday and Rodgers will not put pressure on any player to return to action if they do not feel safe.
“We’ve had great dialogue with the players along the way. There’s been a lot of communication right through the club. With any fears, worries or concerns there was an open-door policy. Naturally everyone had a concern about whether it would be safe. The measures that have been put in place by the police and the Premier League have been followed to the last letter by the club.
“When the players came in you could see the amount of work that has gone in to ensure this environment is safe. We also said to the players this is entirely your decision. Feel free. If you’re not happy, or you have a fear for yourself, or your family, there is no pressure on you.
“But all the players have felt the support of the club and seen the work that has gone in and have really enjoyed being back into some sort of routine.”