Bologna coach Sinisa Mihajlovic insists COVID-19 was ‘like a cool drink of water’ compared to battling leukaemia, but hit back at social media ‘haters' who criticised him for contracting the virus.
He returned to pre-season training yesterday, having been excluded due to his Coronavirus diagnosis, but has now made a full recovery.
Many were worried when he contracted the virus, as he was a high-risk individual just over a year after being diagnosed with leukaemia.
“After what I experienced from July to January last year, six months of daily battle against leukaemia, in and out of hospital for three rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, COVID was like a cool drink of water,” Mihajlovic told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I was totally asymptomatic, so if I hadn’t had the test, I wouldn’t even have noticed. That doesn’t mean the illness doesn’t exist, nor is it something akin to the flu, any those who deny the virus is deadly are just ignoring reality and lacking respect towards those who died, suffered and lost loved ones.
“I don’t think I felt anxious, more irritated that I was forced to stay away again while my team was in pre-season training. There has been so much said about my condition, but very few people know what really happened and there’s a lot of fake news going around.
“My tests have all been perfect, I was not told to take any precautions other than a normal person, I feel in great shape and have gone back to running 10km per day, training, doing weights. I live normally, enjoy life in every moment, and that is what I intend to keep doing.”
There was controversy when Mihajlovic was first diagnosed with COVID-19 following a vacation in Sardinia, with some suggesting he should’ve been more careful knowing he was an at-risk individual with a suppressed immune system.
“I don’t know if my full recovery annoys people, or maybe it’s easier to feel empathy for someone who is in a hospital bed or looks fragile.
“Enzo Ferrari said Italians will forgive you everything except for success. I will add happiness to that list, because there’s a lot of nastiness around, and not just in Italy, but everywhere. They’re called haters on social media, although I’d have a different word…
“I’ve had a home in Sardinia for 20 years and I go there every post-season. At that time, the island was COVID-free, not even one case. I took all the precautions I had to, wearing a mask when entering bars, supermarkets or restaurants.
“I played padel tennis with Dario Marcolin several times, yet he is negative for COVID. All this was allowed. You’ll never know when or how you contracted COVID, or why some people get it and others don’t. I was with my wife, yet she is negative and I am positive. One of my kids is positive, the others negative.
“I am no longer immune-suppressed, I have recovered from leukaemia. I was ill, that doesn’t mean I’ll be ill for the rest of my life. I wasn’t the one who ordered the lockdown measures to be lifted and allowed people to go on vacation. I was just unlucky.
“I see the same attitude with Silvio Berlusconi now, people letting their envy out because someone successful got ill. We did everything we were allowed to do, we got tested, we quarantined, end of story.”