Interview

Long Read: Pedro discusses staying connected, keeping busy at home and how the football season may eventually resume

In the second part of an exclusive interview with the official Chelsea website, Pedro discusses what daily life is like for him at the moment, the situation back in his native Spain and he has a message for Blues fans...

At this time of global crisis and uncertainty, everybody can contribute to making a positive difference in communities as well as wider society and Pedro has certainly been playing his part in aiding the medical response to the coronavirus pandemic back in his native Spain via his own foundation.

Vital equipment is being distributed to hospitals in several locations, including protective masks for nurses, doctors, security guards and police officers on the frontline, while food has also been supplied to help those healthcare workers currently putting in long hours across the country.

Pedro spoke to the official Chelsea website yesterday about the efforts of his foundation in Spain, a country where the effects of the virus have been especially bad and the place where so many of his family currently reside. He also corrected reporting of his contract situation at the club following an inaccurate translation to an answer he gave Spanish media earlier in the week.

Read: Pedro talks about aiding coronavirus response in Spain

In the second part of our interview with the 32-year-old, he expands on the situation back in his homeland and relates to the difficulties felt by many in being physically separated from family and loved ones at this time.

‘It’s a very delicate, complex situation,’ he explains of the crisis in Spain, which now has the second-highest coronavirus death toll after Italy. ‘A critical situation because there have been lots of cases of infection, especially in Madrid and Catalonia, which are probably the most affected regions, but now it has spread across the country.

‘They are in total lockdown in their houses so they are living through a crisis situation. It’s also an economic crisis, of course, but at the moment that is secondary. The most important thing is that people stay at home with their family.

‘The police and army are on the streets and the situation is maybe more controlled than here in the UK but we are living in a situation of chaos and crisis because of this pandemic.’

Pedro has children living back home in Spain, as well as other family, so has had to rely on communication by phone to check regularly on their health and well-being.

‘It’s hard not to be seeing your children, your parents, your siblings, not having them close by at a complicated, difficult time for us all,’ he says. ‘We are in permanent contact on the phone, keeping in touch about what we are up to in isolation and trying to be as close as possible.

‘Of course, we would have liked to be there but for safety reasons that isn’t possible so for now we are going to stay where we are and try to get through it as best we can.’

The winger’s generous work through his foundation is not the only contribution being made to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic from the world of football. It was announced earlier on Friday that the Chelsea men’s squad have made a sizeable donation to the Chelsea Foundation to help support those in need during the current COVID-19 crisis.

That followed the news that the Millennium Hotel at Stamford Bridge has been made available to NHS staff during the pandemic and is one of many similar acts of community spirit being undertaken throughout the game.

‘I think the whole sporting community can help, not just football, and there are many areas where it’s possible to help in some way,’ Pedro continues. ‘People can give money, even if it’s a small amount, because that can help a lot of people.

'We’re doing what I imagine everyone is doing in their homes to cope with this situation as best they can.’

photo of Pedro Pedro

‘Clearly there have been lots of people in football and sport making donations like Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski and other players who have gone out and given money, not only in Spain but around the world. Pep Guardiola has also donated one million euros to fight coronavirus so lots of people in sport are helping with the situation.’

As a professional footballer, Pedro is also focused on staying as fit as possible during the current sporting shutdown. Like the rest of the Chelsea squad, the Spaniard spent two weeks self-isolating at home following Callum Hudson-Odoi testing positive for the virus, while he is now following UK Government instructions to stay at home as much as possible but still trying to keep active.

‘I’m well, at home every day and trying to stay busy,’ he continues. ‘I’m exercising a lot, doing interval training on the bike, spending a lot of time running, online doing yoga classes and weight training - for which fortunately we have lots of equipment to help us - and of course staying healthy by eating well.

‘I'm trying to follow a balanced diet, eating fruit and vegetables, and trying to stay the right weight. That's the advice we have got from the club. Honestly, they have been amazing because they've provided us with a lot of things, from exercise machines we didn't have to sports equipment, and also in terms of nutrition. They are looking after us a lot and they are doing a great job so our job is just to be ready for when we have to play.

‘I’m talking to people back in Spain on the phone, to my children, parents and siblings, and also with friends, to hear what the situation is like,’ he adds when asked how he is using such prolonged periods of downtime.

‘I’m also making a lot of calls with the foundation to see how we can help the biggest possible number of people with what they are going through. That’s our daily life at the moment. We are trying everything to keep entertained, watching TV series and films. We’re doing what I imagine everyone is doing in their homes to cope with this situation as best they can.’

Frank Lampard this week used a special edition of Ask Frank, which you can watch exclusively on the 5th Stand app, to highlight the importance of regular contact with friends and family throughout these challenging times. As well as speaking to those back home, Pedro has also been catching up with colleagues past and present.

‘I’ve spoken to some of my team-mates,’ he says. ‘I’ve been on the phone to Kepa [Arrizabalaga] and Marcos Alonso. I’ve also called Jordi Alba from Barcelona. I’m in touch with other players too, to see how they are handling the situation, with players who are alone, which can sometimes be difficult.

‘These are tough times and we are in constant contact. I’m also speaking a lot to Azpi Cesar Azpilicueta and we’re always following the news coming out from the club, the training that we have to do at home. We’re waiting to see when might be the soonest we could start training again and if it will be possible to restart the season. The most important thing right now is that everything can go back to normal and we can get out of this situation as soon as possible.’

Football continues to take a back seat following the announcement last week that the professional game in England would remain postponed until the end of April at the earliest. It is not something at the forefront of Pedro’s thoughts although, like the rest of us, he is naturally keen to get back to normal working life as soon as it’s safe to do so.

However, he also points out it would be hard for players to resume competitive match action straight away after so long away from group training, suggesting that a small period similar to pre-season would be needed.

‘We have no idea when the season is going to restart,’ admits Pedro. ‘We don't know what impact this suspension will have. A lot of clubs have now been apart for many days so it's going to be difficult to get match fit.

‘You can train hard at home but that's nothing compared to the rhythm at the highest level. We're going to have to wait and see if the league does restart and, if not, what happens next, and how they are going to readjust the entire calendar because no doubt it's going to be difficult.

‘I imagine there would have to be a short pre-season and then we'd probably quickly get on to the remaining games to try and complete the season, but only if possible, as there is a lot of talk that some leagues might be able to finish and others won’t. We're just waiting on all the authorities to take the lead on this.

‘We don't know if we're going to play now, or in June, July, August, we have no idea. We simply have to wait and try to stay fit however possible to get to the remaining games in the best possible condition. Luckily, we don't have too many games left. I think we have nine league games if I remember rightly and we'll have to see how we can finish the season.’

Finally, the man who is coming towards the end of his fifth season at Stamford Bridge had a message for the Chelsea supporters.

‘We know we are going through a very difficult situation, in which lots of people have even lost relatives. It's a delicate and difficult time for everyone. I hope we can see each other soon at Stamford Bridge and go back to playing and doing what we like best.

‘Please keep calm, stay at home, stay isolated, because this virus can really be quite dangerous and hard to control. I hope we'll all be able to see each other soon, doing what we love, playing football, and that you will all be able to enjoy this wonderful sport as soon as possible. Simply keep calm and hopefully we can see each other soon doing what we like best.’

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