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Ex-Dons defender delivers stark message after battle with Coronavirus

Mark Phillips outlines the dangers of a virus that left him in hospital

16 April 2020

Former AFC Wimbledon defender Mark Phillips has today warned about the dangers of any complacency in the battle against Coronavirus after he took important steps towards recovery.

Mark, who played for Wimbledon in 2014/15, is now recovering from the virus that has caused a global pandemic, but he reiterated that everyone needs to follow the government guidelines, which recommend staying at home and social distancing.

“Just a message here for all the AFC Wimbledon fans, and their friends, and family. I just wanted to drop you guys a message about what has happened to me in the last three weeks regarding something that everyone knows about now – Coronavirus. Everyone thinks it may be something that just affects the older generation and those with underlying health issues, but this is not what I found. I found myself in a really bad way two weeks ago and that led to me ending up in hospital. The fact that people think they are safe and it’s not going to happen to them is understandable because it hasn’t affected them yet, but I run a football academy and we’ve had numerous children affected by the virus. I’ve also had friends and family that have died from this awful virus, so I just want to let you know that you are not safe. It’s really important that you follow the government guidelines. We all have to stick together at this difficult time.

“What I would recommend is for you to stay in and self isolate – it won’t be forever. Listen to the government guidelines, and keep up to date with what they are recommending. Do the right thing, let’s come together at this time, and it will be over sooner, rather than later. I wish you all the best.

“The NHS staff are doing an amazing job by putting their lives and the lives of their families at risk on a daily basis to help the nation. My friend who is a front-line nurse contracted the virus, took it home, and infected all his family. They completed their period in isolation and he went back to work the day after. The nation really needs to come together to help NHS heroes get through this horrific time.”

Speaking from his own personal experience, Mark also talked about the symptoms of the virus that affected him, outlining the signs that we all need to be aware of every day.

“For me personally, I first developed a little headache, and then my whole head was aching,” added Mark. “Two days on from that I had a sore throat and a cough developed. It was a dry cough and my breathing wasn’t great. At first, I thought it was ‘man flu’ because I didn’t have the temperatures associated with it. I wasn’t at any point hot or cold, and I didn't have a fever, so I was only worried a little bit. Then it developed to a point where I had a really tight chest and I was struggling to breathe. The cough had got more painful and I was struggling for air. I had a little kickabout with my son, still thinking I was ill, and when I did a couple of passes it was really tightening my chest - to a point that it felt like someone was squeezing my chest. It was really painful and I had to stop. I had an early night because I was shattered and I woke up the next morning with no sense of smell or taste. That confirmed to me that I did have the virus and I’ve self-isolated since then.

“It would be interesting to say that up until that point I hadn’t had any contact with other people, I was using alcohol wipes and I thought I was being safe. I was in the house pretty much the whole time and I had only gone to the shops a couple of times, making sure that I kept away from people and watching what I touched. For me, it was therefore quite worrying how I got this and I still don’t know how I got it. I’ve not retired from playing that long ago, so I’m pretty fit and healthy. I’m also not in a demographic that’s regarded as being vulnerable to this virus.

“As the virus progressed, I was really struggling to talk, I was only able to get a couple of words out, and I was struggling to breathe. Even breathing was making my chest feel so tight. It was physically very painful and that was the point when I called 111, just for a bit of advice initially. They transferred me to 999. I ended up in hospital and thankfully because I’m fit and healthy my breathing and oxygen levels were sufficient enough to be released. I’ve got an inhaler, which I needed every three hours. That’s probably not recommended, but I needed it just to be able to breathe. I’m still kind of recovering, I still have a headache, so the recovery process is very long.”

We thank Mark for sharing his experiences of the virus and we wish him and his family all the best at this difficult time. Mark's full message can be viewed below.

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