Three days before the state of emergency was declared in Spain on 14 March, the doctor at the second division B club Barakaldo gathered the players together and told them all to go home and not leave again. “This will be two weeks,” he said. “Then another two, then another two, then maybe more …”
Diego Cervero, the striker who had scored six goals in six games since joining Barakaldo in the winter, remembers the players looking at each other, wondering what he was going on about. “This is serious,” the doctor warned them.
“I listened to that, spoke to friends that are doctors, to my dad who was a doctor for 45 years, to my girlfriend, a pharmacist who already couldn’t leave Madrid, and thought: ‘Bloody hell, this is bad,’” Cervero says.
That afternoon he drove home to Oviedo, almost 300km west. En route, he decided he had to do something and over the weekend he called Barakaldo to ask permission. That Monday the club released a video, in which he offered to help the fight against coronavirus – from the front line.
It was no empty offer. Cervero has scored 243 goals in his career, including one from inside his own half a week before Barakaldo suspended training and sent their players home. He is also a qualified doctor. And he was absolutely serious. He started sending emails, filling in forms, making calls. Dozens of them: to the medical colleges in Asturias, the Basque Country and Madrid, to the ministry of health, to the emergency field hospital rapidly assembled in the capital. He spoke to Imanol, Barakaldo’s doctor. He asked friends and friends of friends. Every time they sent numbers or suggestions, he called. “Medicine is a vocation,” Cervero says. “I felt I had to help.” (Text and photo courtesy Guardian)