Bengaluru, March 28: Spanish footballer Toni Dovale, who had stints with Indian clubs Bengaluru FC and East Bengal, has exchanged his football boots for a pharmacist's white coat in the ongoing global fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in his home country.
The 29-year-old pharmacy graduate, who had a one year stint with former Indian Super League (ISL) champions Bengaluru FC and was on loan at I League giants East Bengal and later moved to Thailand club Royal Thai Navy FC, was visiting his family in Spain when the coronavirus pandemic outbreak started.
So he decided to pitch in his 'grain of sand' against the virus using the studies which he had yet to put into practice due to his passion for football.
"I really was packing my bags to go back when things got complicated," Dovale was quoted as saying in an interview with AFP news agency.
Travel restrictions trapped Dovale in his native La Coruna in the Atlantic coast region of Galicia, where he started his football career with nearby Celta Vigo. Although Dovale completed his university studies in pharmacy four years ago, he had never actually worked in the field.
Now with the world of sport in limbo, the footballer realised the time was ripe to use his studies to help his homeland.
"I was playing in Asia then; pharmacy is different there and I was never in Spain long enough to work. With football stopped and travel banned I said to myself 'get some practical experience and do your bit," he said.
Dovale, the former Rayo Vallecano midfielder, is working in a pharmacy run by his family. He has gloves but no mask, and does not appear ready to lose his smile any time soon.
"We all know we're exposed, that this is a pandemic and a complicated situation. But we all know too that our behaviour in complicated situations defines who we're, and for me I need to put fears for my own safety to one side and help in any way that I can," he added.
Dovale has also played for Spanish club Leganes, Sporting Kansas City in the United States before moving to Thailand.
"Right now I'm the same as everyone else in that I train at home. Then I go downstairs to the pharmacy. I hope this is over as soon as possible and that I can go back to playing football again."