Afe Nurse

Former Spanish footballer working on coronavirus frontline

07 April 2020
Nacho Gonzalez Santana, a 37-year-old former professional footballer from Madrid, is among the frontline workers fighting the coronavirus COVID-19 in Spain.

Gonzalez played for clubs in the third and fourth-tiers of Spanish football including Getafe B and San Sebastian de los Reyes, combining his career with medical studies.

He now works at a hospital in Torrejon on the outskirts of Madrid and with his colleagues is coping with extremely challenging conditions because of the spread of the coronavirus.

In an interview with Spanish player union AFE, Gonzalez said he draws on the skills he learnt as a footballer. “Working in a team, solidarity, effort…they’re important in football and now,” he said.

“Nacho, I know you can't answer the phone but I want you to know that I am supporting you”

As part of his job, he instructs staff on how to wear and dispose of protective gloves, clothing and masks during the pandemic.

“I never stop telling my colleagues that they have to go through all the steps correctly because we can’t let down our guard,” he said. “We have to keep doing things well so as few medical professionals as possible become infected.

“There are days when you go home thinking you have lost but soon you think you have to come back fighting straight away.”

Every day Spaniards applaud health workers going to work, thanking them for their bravery and dedication. Gonzalez says he is receiving many messages of support from former teammates.

Some, he says, leave messages on his answerphone like “Nacho, I know you can’t answer the phone but I want you to know that I am supporting you."