England manager Gareth Southgate has issued a powerful message for fans as the coronavirus spreads across the country — urging them to stay safe and help others.
"Look out for each other," he said. "Please don’t suffer alone, and remember that our great country has come through these enormous challenges before — and, together, we will do so again."
Southgate was due to take his team into the Euro 2020 championships this summer, but the tournament has been postponed for a year. He said fans "shouldn't spend another moment thinking about" it — and that when England plays again, the world will be "on the road to recovery".
"When we play again as an England team, it will be at a time when not only our country but the rest of the world as well is on the road to recovery. Hopefully we will be closer to each other than ever, and ready for the beautiful distraction that football can bring."
He called on people to "now work together to combat a virus that is causing physical and emotional issues to so many".
"For everyone in our country, the primary focus of the present — and the coming months — is undoubtedly to look after our families, support our communities and work together to come through what is clearly the most extreme test that we’ve faced collectively in decades," he said.
"So, please continue to follow the guidelines for hygiene and also the sensible precautions put in place to control the spread of the virus in order to protect those most vulnerable to its impact," he said. "That responsibility lies with us all."
Southgate told fans that the team had been due to play this week and represent the country in the summer but "now is clearly not the moment for us to take centre-stage".
"The heroes will be the men and women who continue working tirelessly in our hospitals and medical centres to look after our friends and families," he said.
"They won’t receive the individual acclaim, but we all know their importance is beyond anything we do on the pitch."
"To play in a European Championship next summer will still be possible for all of our squad and so we shouldn’t spend another moment thinking about the postponement of the competition," he added. "I feel sure that, when that moment comes, I will never have been prouder to be the leader."