By ITV News Sports Producer Dan Salisbury-Jones
Wales international Rabbi Matondo knows many have been hit far harder than him by the coronavirus pandemic but it’s still striking that a lad who should be having the time of his life in Germany has been struck by loneliness and isolation.
"My family are always worried about me, especially my mum," says the teenager, who is living on his own in Gelsenkirchen where his club Schalke 04 are based.
Mum is 500 miles away in Cardiff but is still doing all she can to keep updated.
Matondo told ITV News: "She’s always calling me and talking to me and asking me what I’ve had to eat and what I’ve done throughout the day and yeah she is concerned, we all are, but like I said as long as we’re all safe, everyone is staying at home and listening to the guidelines, yeah we’ll be OK basically."
"Yeah this period has been difficult obviously for me without my family or friends here so it’s been tough. But Schalke have looked after us, kept us on our toes, kept us fit so everything is OK at the moment. You’ve just got to stay safe and stay well."
But staying safe at the moment is a dilemma when your job is a contact sport.
Matondo and his teammates could even be playing competitive matches again in the next two weeks as the Bundesliga looks to be Europe’s first major league to restart.
He said: "I'm not concerned really because I think they’ve done a great job to keep us all away from each other and they’ve evaluated everything."
"Obviously it’s a risk like we all know, but I think we’re one of the countries here in Germany that’ve got a hold of it and I think it’s a great opportunity for us and football fans to be buzzing about this."
Matondo added: "We’re currently allowed to train so that’s a positive but we’re not training as a team at the moment, we’re training in groups and we’re not allowed contact with each other so we’re doing passing drills and shooting drills and stuff like that."
He continued: "Just keeping our touch there and obviously doing some fitness work and stuff like that but yeah we’re not allowed to be together, we’ve got our own changing rooms and every time we come in at Schalke we get like tested so yeah it’s obviously strict rules at the moment but anything to be back on that pitch."
The 19-year-old joined the German side from Manchester City looking for more first team opportunities. He’d become a regular just before the lockdown and is excited at the prospect of so many watching his matches.
"I think this will be a great opportunity for the Bundesliga, obviously as we all know there’s been a lot of countries that have called it off and said no they’re not going to be playing the remainder of the season – Holland, Belgium and France now so obviously it’s a difficult time but in Germany I think it will be great that the games are getting more viewers and the whole world tuning in to the Bundesliga."
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