Sokratis Papastathopoulos

Arsenal players returned to training at their London Colney base on Monday, despite the UK being on lockdown.

They were the first Premier League club to make a tightly controlled return to training since the suspension of football in England on March 13.

In an interview with ERT, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Greek professional footballer who plays as a centre back for Arsenal and the Greek National team, spoke about the experience of the “new normal” of training.

“My team started training at the centre. Of course, one footballer is a long way from the other. We have started in groups of five players, located at a distance of 15-20 meters. We mainly run, this is training…we can’t even exchange passes between us. I believe that Germany will be a big test for all the leagues, to see where we are and if we can start. Nothing is certain unless we see Germany first,” he stated.

Sources told ESPN that strict rules have been put in place by the club. Players will travel individually and will already be in their training gear for the session. They will go directly to the outdoor pitches, with all buildings at the training ground closed. Players will return home immediately after the session, without showering or having lunch on site as they normally do.

When asked if the fear among footballers has gone, Papastathopoulos responded: “It’s not gone, but quarantine was a good test for everyone. The measures will start to relax, people will start coming out, but everyone will think about every step they have to take. Above all, think about human life and not football, basketball and sports. Everything is sacrificed in front of it. Arsenal were the first to talk about cuts and we found a solution that would be the best for the team, so that there are no redundancies, especially for the staff.”

“So far, Greece has done very well, the government has taken timely measures. All over the world they speak with positive comments. I will say patience. We know how difficult it is to stay at home and many need their money and jobs,” the Greek footballer concluded.