Romelu Lukaku has revealed that, in his estimation, “23 out of 25” Inter Milan players showed coronavirus symptoms at roughly the same time in late December and early January.
Inter players were given a week off at the end of December, with no games played between December 21 and January 6.
Lukaku says that at some point after the group reconvened for regular training, what we now know to be common symptoms of the coronavirus had spread throughout the first-team squad. Lukaku says that no players were tested for the virus at that time, as what is currently believed to be Italy’s first confirmed case wasn’t reported until Jan. 31 — quotes from Sky Sports:
“We had a week off in December, we returned to work and I swear that 23 out of 25 players were ill. I am not kidding.
“We played against Radja Nainggolan’s Cagliari (on Jan. 26) and after about 25 minutes, one of our defenders had to leave the pitch. He could not continue and almost fainted.”
“Everyone was coughing and had a fever. When I was warming up, I felt a lot hotter than usual. I hadn’t suffered from a fever in years.
“After the game there was a planned dinner with guests, but I thanked them and went straight to bed. We never did the COVID-19 tests at that moment, so we’ll never know for sure.”
Lukaku did not mention him by name, but Slovak defender Milan Skriniar was subbed off after just 17 minutes of the game against Cagliari. The sides drew 1-1 after Nainggolan, Lukaku’s Belgian compatriot, scored a late equalizer against his parent club.