Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 30 May 2020

Alvaro Negredo keeps fit in Dubai but thoughts with family in Spain: 'I always worry something may happen to them'

Al Nasr captain discusses being separated from family in one of the countries hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic

With much of his family and many friends back home, Alvaro Negredo is desperate for Spain to experience some respite, at the very least, from its current crisis.

The Al Nasr captain is acutely aware of the situation in his homeland, where its 140,000-plus confirmed cases of Covid-19 ranks as the second highest in the world. Of those, more than 13,500 have died while more than 48,000 people have recovered as of Wednesday evening.

Negredo monitors developments from his current residence in Dubai, training alone as the Arabian Gulf League shutdown continues. Outside of that, he spends the additional time with wife Amparo, oldest daughter, Maria, and son, Alvaro Jr.

His thoughts, though, are never far from home.

“It is really, really complicated,” Negredo tells The National. “My wife and two of my children are here, but in Spain there is one of my daughters, my parents, my brothers ... I always worry that something may happen to them and I could not help them. I hope everything will be fine soon.”

Negredo talks every day with his family in Spain, checking in to see if they are OK, enquiring if there is anything he can do to help. This far from a lot of his loved ones, it's both a frustration and a significant concern.

“It's not easy,” he says. “We are in a situation that we would never have imagined. The only thing we can do is trust in the authorities and hope that we will go through this soon. I am sure that, in time, everything will be normal again.”

For sure, football runs secondary. At 34, Negredo is keeping in shape in preparation for the Arabian Gulf League’s eventual resumption, whenever that may be.

Postponed on March 15, organisers have yet to decide when the UAE top flight shall return to action. Nineteen rounds in, Nasr sit sixth in the standings.

Alvaro Negredo and his wife Amparo are in Dubai while many of Negredo's family members are in Spain. Courtesy Alvaro Negredo
Alvaro Negredo and his wife Amparo are in Dubai while many of Negredo's family members are in Spain. Courtesy Alvaro Negredo

“It’s really different,” Negredo says. “We must adapt to the situation and try to do what the authorities tell us. I am trying to spend more time with my family.

“I'm following the training plan the club has given us, trying to keep my diet as good as possible so that, when this situation passes, I can be as fit as possible.”

Negredo stays in contact with his Nasr colleagues via their Whatsapp group. There, the players discuss those training plans, or simply provide updates as to how they are doing. They are not together, but they feel connected.

A former Spain international, Negredo chats most often with Toze and Esteban Pavez, teammates from Portugal and Chile, respectively. He speaks regularly with Pedro Conde, a fellow countryman who plies his trade at league leaders Shabab Al Ahli Dubai.

Maybe, at some stage in the not-too-distant future, they can chew over Conde’s league winner’s medal, should the competition be concluded. At present, all options remain open: resume the league as normal when safe to do so, play those matches without fans, or even cancel the season.

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For what it's worth, Negredo would like to see the campaign completed.

“A football player loves to play,” says the striker, a Premier League winner with Manchester City, one of the many European clubs he has represented with distinction. “The most beautiful thing would be to finish the league with your fans in the stands.

“It is a very difficult decision. The first thing is everyone's health. Once the situation is under control, it will be time to see what dates are available and see if it is possible to play. The best thing for me would be to finish the league.”

Most important, however, is doing whatever possible to support family and friends at home.

Asked what message he would send to his compatriots grappling with the coronavirus and its impact, Negredo says:It is time to be together, trust the Spanish healthcare system, which is one the best in the world, and show that the Spanish never give up. We will get ahead soon.”

Updated: April 9, 2020 12:49 PM

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