'I can't go now'- Atalanta coach Gasperini reveals he had Covid-19 during Valencia game and feared for his life

Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini revealed he was positive for coronavirus during his side's clash with Valencia at Mestalla in March.

Gasperini said he was ill as the Italians beat Valencia 4-3 behind closed doors in the Champions League, when the Serie A side reached the quarter-finals via an 8-4 aggregate victory.

The 62-year-old said he thought about death as he struggled with Covid-19, which has killed more than 371,000 people worldwide.

"I was scared. The day before the game I was sick, the afternoon of the game worse. The two nights after I slept little," Gasperini told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“If you look at the pictures, I did not look good on the bench. That was March 10. The two nights afterwards, I did not sleep well. I didn’t have a fever, but I felt like I did.

“Every two minutes, an ambulance would go past, as there’s a hospital near the training ground. It sounded like a warzone. At night I would think: 'What will happen to me if I go into that hospital? I can’t go now, I have so much still to do.'

“It was in a way a joke with myself to lighten the mood, but on the other hand, I really did think about that. Then, on Saturday March 14, I had the toughest training session in years, an hour on the running machine, plus a 10km run. I felt strong, wonderful.”

Gasperini said he also lost his sense of taste, a common symptom of coronavirus.

“The day after, the team received food and 2008 Dom Perignon from a Michelin-star chef who is a fan of Atalanta. I tasted it and said: ‘This is water…’ The food tasted like bread. I had completely lost my sense of taste," he revealed.

The former Inter boss said a recent test showed he had coronavirus antibodies, confirmation he battled the illness earlier this year.

"Ten days ago serological tests confirmed that I had Covid-19," Gasperini said.

"I have the antibodies. It doesn't mean that they are now immune."

Meanwhile, he is hopeful that the trauma that Bergamo has come through due to the virus will be of help to the team.

"It’ll take time before we can see the joyful scenes in the square or at the airport again, but the people of Bergamo are the burning embers under the ash. They will slowly emerge again," he said. "This team remained connected to the suffering of Bergamo, none of the players left the city during the lockdown, and they will represent Bergamo on the pitch.

“There is this deep, dignified sadness in the city. The air is thick with it, you feel it everywhere, in the street, in people’s eyes, in the shuttered bars and restaurants, in the silence of my staff member who lost his father.

“It’ll take years to truly understand what happened, because this was the centre of the tragedy. Every time I think about it, this feels so absurd: the peak of sporting joy coincided with the depths of despair for Bergamo.”

Serie A is due to resume on June 20, with Gasperini's Atalanta sitting fourth in the table.