Francis Benali is missing Premier League football as much as the next person but insists it should only return when it’s deemed safe to do so. The Saints legend also believes that the current campaign must be completed as opposed to having a line drawn underneath it, writes Dan Sheldon.
Francis Benali said “As much as football is a big part of my life and a lot of other people’s lives, the health and wellbeing of everyone is the priority,” Benali told the Daily Echo. Football should only resume when it’s really safe to do so. It will return in its own good time. Like most people, I would like to see the season completed and not cancelled in any way, shape or form. I know that brings its challenges about how we do resume it and one decision could raise 100 more questions. But I would love the country to be in a position where things get back to some sort of normality which will enable us to get back to playing football and finish the season.”
Benali, who will be running a 26.2-mile marathon in his back garden for charity on Sunday, is trying to stay in a positive mindset during the lockdown. The Saints icon feels sympathy for those struggling with their mental health at the moment and admits he would be finding it difficult if he was still playing.
Francis Benali said “I would find it really tough. I’d probably find it as I’m finding in now. As a former player, there are certain elements of this lockdown that I’ve enjoyed. It’s given all of us the chance to hit pause and take a step backwards from our daily routines and assess what’s important to us all. From a players’ perspective, I imagine they’ve found it really tough because their normal day is structured with training, eating and playing. If you are a young man or woman living at home, without a network of a family being with you, you could feel alone. But that’s where the football clubs and whatever backing you do have is really important. I know Southampton have been very keen to make sure their players have a network and are in regular contact with people. They all have WhatsApp and there is interaction with the programmes they are following and it’s all about connecting with people to try and stay physically and mentally fit.”
Football across the United Kingdom has been suspended indefinitely because of the coronavirus crisis.