As for everyone else, life as a Chelsea footballer has not been the same in 2020. From the initial lockdown, through project restart, and then on to the current, busy, behind-closed-doors programme of fixtures, there are things to be missed, new experiences to be had and even some fresh talents emerging.
In a new series on the official Chelsea website we find out from the players about all this, starting out with our England international midfielder Mason Mount...
What do you miss most about ‘normal’ football during this behind-closed-doors period? What’s the weirdest thing about now?
Definitely the atmosphere. Obviously the fans not being there has a big effect. The pressure side of it if you are playing an away game at a big stadium. Even playing at the Bridge you have the pressure that you need to perform. It is still there without the fans but they give you that extra pressure, because you want to perform for them.
What song are you most looking forward to hearing the fans sing again?
Probably them clapping along to The Liquidator when we walk out. That is definitely one that means a lot so hearing that again will be good.
Has anyone told you they have heard you swearing on the TV coverage?
No, they haven’t!
Is it strange being able to hear the manager and coaches more than normal?
I think it helps. Before lockdown and before anything happened, at times when the game was tough you couldn’t normally hear them that much, but now you can hear them a lot and you know what the message is they are trying to get across, so that definitely helps in that sense.
Which away ground has made the best job of decorating the coverings over the seats?
I think ours is up there as one of the best. I think it is really good what clubs have done with covering all the seats up with messages on there, that we’re missing the fans. I saw Tottenham’s one was something like we can’t smile without you, as in the fans, which is obviously a good message - that it is not the same. So every club has done well with that, sending messages across.
Strangest dressing room set-up at the moment?
At Sheffield United last season we were in the stand, in the area where fans go before the game, before you go to get in your seat. There were all the stands for food around and we were literally in amongst all of that. That was strange but it is something you have to get used to now. We have to do it at the moment.
Does it feel easier to play games away from home than usual?
Yeah, I would definitely say the difference in fan noise is a factor because playing an away game is not much different from home because there is no fans. Home or away you don’t really have much advantage. It has an effect.
Do you listen with the fake crowd noise on or off when you watch games on TV?
I listen with the fake fan noise. It gives you that extra little feeling of there being fans there. It is very good to be fair.
What is different at Cobham compared with usual?
All the changing, we are not really allowed a normal changing room, we have these little pods that we change in, and other things around the training ground like the pool.
What did you miss most from the canteen there when you could not use that?
All the food. The food is really nice, I’ll eat anything, but also the sitting around with the boys, talking about a game. It is good when you have that team bond. You miss that togetherness.
When you were out running to keep fit during lockdown, did you get recognised?
No, I had a big hat on and a snood and I made sure I just got on with my stuff. I was just doing it around Cobham. There a lot of people that you notice including footballers, but people don’t really speak to you. They say well done about the games but they don’t stop you or take pictures because a lot of people are used to it around Cobham.
Did you work out an interesting route?
I did. I worked out two routes and one was an 8k run which was perfect for longer distance, and another one was around 5k. I did those two a lot.
How tough was it to keep fit without usual training?
When you are playing games and you have that match fitness, nothing else can make up for that. You only get that if you are playing games but staying fit and staying active, I felt that we could all do that. I know it is down to you to want to go out there or do gym sessions in the house, but I don’t think it was too hard to stay active.
Did the lockdown period make you think about life without football?
Yeah, definitely. Before everything happened I would say I took some things for granted but then we went into lockdown and you had time to think about a lot of things. Now you have that different outlook on life and what is going on now.
Lots of hidden talents emerged during lockdown so did you learn anything new or have any surprising hobbies to help get you through?
I wasn’t on TikTok like Chris Christian Pulisic! I saw him doing some dancing and tricks. There were things here and there which I haven’t kept going. I wanted to learn Spanish and some other things. I did a bit of cooking here and there but I haven’t kept it going. I definitely need to keep it up now.
Have you discovered any hidden gems in your local community?
When I was going on walks and little runs, I found a lake that was only a two- or three-minute walk from my house which I didn’t know was there. It is through a bit of forest and it is beautiful so I found that and I never knew that was there. That was quite cool.
Who had the worst ‘lockdown look’ when you all returned to training?
There were quite a few! I reckon I was up there. My hair was everywhere and I had a goatee come through. Jorginho’s hair was very long and curly, and I didn’t think it would be able to go like that. He had a big beard as well. It suited him but I have never seen him like that.
Everyone has got trimmed now and it is back to normal and I have almost forgotten what everyone looked like before.
Have you got the hang of unmuting yourself on Zoom calls?
Yep, I have done many a Zoom call. I have spent hours on there, playing quizzes with my family and friends so I have got the hang of it.