Ghana midfielder Emmanuel Agyemang Badu has ascribed 2019 and 2020 as his toughest year, citing his health issue and sister’s death as the reason.
The 29-year-old Ghana international spent most of his career in Italy with Udinese and since 2019 Verona.
In pre-season, he was rushed to hospital with what turned out to be a pulmonary embolism – a blood clot in the lungs – which can be fatal if not treated rapidly.
2019 and 2020 have been the toughest years of my life,” Badu told the BBC World Service.
“I nearly died, I got a lot of injuries - and then I lost my sister in a very painful way. It's very difficult for me and my family. The guy who shot my sister is on the run; they haven't got him yet, because things are going slowly because of this virus. It was a disaster.”
His sister Hagar was killed in Berekum last month, and although police claim they have identified the murderer, he has not yet been found.
Meanwhile, Badu, his girlfriend and their baby are in isolation in Verona during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I need to thank my family and friends and our team and my agent. My coach has called me every day to check up on me - as well as the team manager and the president. They have all been wonderful. Without them it would have been a disaster.”
A week before the Serie A season kicked off, Badu was rushed to hospital in the middle of the night with a life-threatening condition.
“The morning after a game I came to the gym to do some gym work. That night I came home and was struggling to breathe. I didn't take it seriously at first - I thought it was tiredness. In the morning they gave me some painkillers. But the next night it was even worse.
“At 2am I called the doctor and fortunately he was awake. He sent a physio who was closer to me and he came - and immediately said, ‘we need to go to the hospital’. Eventually they found out that I had a blood clot in my lungs. I had to stop playing football for three to four months. It was very serious, I think if I hadn't got the physio and the doctor to check up on me it would've been a disaster.
“From August to December I didn't do anything. I came back training with the team for 3-4 weeks and started having some very reduced playing time - but then the virus happened. I can't do anything about it - I just thank God that I have my life.
“I'm doing very well now - no injuries; life is more precious than football so right now we need to take care of ourselves. Be safe and pray that this thing goes fast, so we can all get back to doing what we love to do.”
Badu has donated masks, gloves and hand sanitiser for hospitals back home in Ghana, because “prevention is better than cure, so I wanted them to have these things to be safe. I am in the middle of it here and I know how much I'm struggling here so we all need to help and take care of people in Africa.”