Three weeks on from football’s suspension, we spoke with Elliot Simoes – who was the last Reds’ player to conduct a pre-match press conference.
Barnsley were due to travel to Queens Park Rangers for another crucial Sky Bet Championship fixture, but the impact of Coronavirus has had a devastating impact on lives across the world that has brought much of the global population to a grinding halt.
These are dark and difficult times for us all; a dystopian scenario that perhaps only sci-fi writers could have possibly imagined. Sadly, we cannot resume normality once the credits roll. This is the current, damning situation.
Our Portuguese forward is at home with his family, riding out the storm, and he hopes that you are all keeping safe.
“First of all, I hope everyone is healthy and well, and I hope you’re following the government guidelines so you can be safe and keep your families safe,” began Simoes. “We all know that you’re raring to finish the season but health is more important at the moment.
“No one really expected this coming, even when we first heard about it, we never thought it was going to be this bad.
“This came at a time when we had important games and we had our heads on it, thinking about it every single day. We’ve gone from that to knowing it’s not going to happen right now. I think every footballer in the world right now just wants to get on the pitch, but everyone’s safety is more important at the moment.”
The advantages of a young lad being at home with his parent is having a nutritional meal prepared every day, which have a Mediterranean twist due to his heritage.
He admits cooking isn’t his forte, and he is enjoying some of the exceptional cuisine that his mum provides after putting himself through his paces with his tailor-made fitness plan, set by the club.
“That’s the plus thing about being at home; I don’t have the best cooking skills so, because of my mum, I’ve been eating well and keeping myself healthy,” continued Simoes. “The food that we eat is quite different, it’s what we’re used to in Portugal; the way she cooks and the style is something that I like a lot.
“If I were in Barnsley, I’d be eating the normal stuff that includes a bit of everything like carbs, a bit of veg, meat and rice – something easy to cook.
“I’ve been keeping myself fit by doing activities each day; we’ve been set home exercises to do. We’ve got a plan that we have to do for certain positions, so I’m literally just following the plan. There’s a lot of different ones from high speed to short distance and long distance, so there’s a bit of everything.”
With no timescale as to when sport will return, there’s not much for our players to do except try and maintain the best level of fitness they possibly can.
Whether the current season will reach its conclusion remains to be seen, but when football is back underway – whenever that may be – Simoes believes it may take a while to get back into the swing of things.
“I think it’ll be quite hard for everyone because something like this hasn’t happened before, but I think, as a player, if you’re keeping yourself fit and healthy, there’s a better chance that you can be ready for it,” insisted the 20-year-old.
“But there’s nothing like being game fit and ready – you need to be playing games, and for us not to be active and playing for three months or whatever it is, it could be quite hard for everyone.”