Lionel Messi admits he could never have imagined the global repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic as the Barcelona star gets ready to return to action in June.
The Covid-19 outbreak has had a devastating effect on people's lives across the world, with the BBC reporting that there have been over 350,000 deaths due to the disease.
Sport has subsequently been put on hold although football is gradually beginning to return, with the Bundesliga having already restarted and La Liga due to get underway again from June 8.
While six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi has struggled to come to terms with the global impact that the virus has had, he is eager to get back to playing again, albeit recognising that safety is paramount.
He told adidas: "I don't think anyone could have seen something like this coming. Some people warned that worldwide pandemics could happen from time to time, but I really never could have imagined it would unfold like it did, or the enormous impact it's having on virtually the entire world.
"Living or working with so much uncertainty is never easy, especially when faced with a situation as unheard-of as this one. We all wonder when we'll get back to work, when we'll start training and competing again. For any soccer player, it's crucial to stay focused when you hit the field."
Regarding the return of Spanish football without fans, Messi added: "There is talk of finishing out the Spanish league's season without spectators, which brings a whole set of challenges.
"The group preparation is the same as for any other game, but individually each person needs to prepare and visualise playing without fans, because it's very strange. I had to do it for a home game, and it was downright spooky.
"But it's normal that the league would resume this way after everything we've been going through. With all that's happening in the world, it's perfectly understandable.
"When we start playing again, it will be like starting from scratch. We'll have some time to get ready before the league starts up, and we'll also get back key players on our team who were injured. Technically it will still be the same season, but I think every team and player will feel it's different.
"Even though I don't play two games per week anymore, I try to train every day, and I do the drills they send us. It's obviously a far cry from training with the team, and the worst part is not having the constant games, but it's the new normal we have to live with. That's why we'll need some time to prepare before competing again."
The coronavirus pandemic led to the cancellation of many football competitions and post-season tournaments across the globe, with Copa America having been due to go ahead in the summer prior to it being pushed back to 2021.
Messi said of that particular decision: "Pushing back the Copa America was a huge disappointment, but of course it was to be expected and was the reasonable thing to do. The Copa was going to be a big occasion for me this year, and I was extremely excited to compete in it again. It hit me hard when I learned it would be postponed, but I completely understood.
"We can't dwell on what we're leaving behind this year. It's better to look to the future. To getting back to the daily training routine, to seeing teammates, to playing the first games. I'm sure it will be strange at first, but I'm very eager to start competing again!"