My family feared for me after I lost four kilos to malaria



Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has said that his family were “scared” for his health after lost over half a stone during his malaria ordeal last month which kept him in hospital for three days.

The Arsenal captain contracted the disease while on international duty in Gabon and missed four games for his club as he dealt with what he described as the worst sickness of his life.

Aubameyang said he is now “90 per cent” fit ahead of Arsenal’s crucial Europa League semi-final second leg against Villarreal, adding that he is ready to start in the biggest match of their season.

The 31 year-old said he initially thought his physical tiredness was due to the travel after the international break, before his condition deteriorated dramatically after playing against Liverpool and Slavia Prague.

“I was feeling very, very bad,” said Aubameyang. “This was the worst moment of being sick in my life. I had three days in a row, fever, all day and all night, non-stop. Even the paracetamol and stuff had no effect.

“After that, I spoke to the doctor. I said I needed to go to the hospital because I was travelling to Africa so maybe it was something like malaria. I stayed in hospital for three days.

“I was really, really down and I think I lost four kilos. It was a really bad moment and I think my family was a bit scared to see me like this. After that, I had some good treatments.

“I have to tell the truth that the staff did very well and the doctors as well in the hospital. I am lucky that we took it in the end at the right moment because sometimes with malaria, if you don’t treat it quickly, you can have some big problems.”

The malaria scare was just the latest difficulty that Aubameyang has had to overcome during a season in which he has failed to live up to expectations. He also missed three games due to the illness of his mother, and was dropped from the north London derby for lateness.

Having scored 31 and 29 goals in his previous two full campaigns for Arsenal, Aubameyang has found the net just 15 times this season. The 31-year-old signed a lucrative new contract in September and said he feels responsibility for some of their struggles as a team.

“This season has been really, really difficult,” he said. “Everyone was expecting me to score more goals, I know it. Maybe I feel a bit responsible that we are in this situation right now.

“I want to give something back because people were expecting me to score more goals and to be giving more. Definitely I want to lead for the game tomorrow.”

Aubameyang has previously delivered match-winning performances in big cup games for Arsenal, including a majestic hat-trick against Valencia in the Europa League semi-final of 2019 and the key goals in their FA Cup triumph last season.

“I think I was really motivated in these types of games because a few times I received some criticism about not being involved in big games,” he said. “I wanted to show people it is not true.”

Arsenal trail 2-1 from the first leg against Villarreal, meaning a 1-0 victory at the Emirates will be enough to send them through to the final in Gdansk. Former head coach Unai Emery, who will be making his first return to north London since he was sacked in November 2019, said Aubameyang is still one of the best strikers in Europe.

“Aubameyang is a killer,” said Emery. “He was, he is and he will always be. He has been through a process of being out of the team because of the illness he has had, but he is back.

“He is there to work, to defend the team and give everything for the team, hoping he can perform at the top level and if that happens he is going to be very difficult to stop.”

Meanwhile Mikel Arteta hinted that David Luiz could recover in time to feature on Thursday night, despite limping out of Sunday’s victory over Newcastle United with a hamstring problem.

“With David, it is always possible,” said Arteta. “He was already saying before the game that he wanted to be available. He has made an incredible effort to be in the position that he is today.”

Arsenal are also hopeful that key players Kieran Tierney and Alexandre Lacazette will both be fit to play after taking part in training this week. 



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