No Torquay United player is looking forward to the start of next season more than Lucas Covolan Cavagnari, who has experienced a more testing Covid-19 ‘lockdown’ than most.
Former Brazil under-20 international Covolan, 29, joined United last summer and had not seen his family for more than a year.
Manager Gary Johnson gave him permission to fly home once last season was curtailed but Covolan knew it might not be a straightforward exercise.
“Everyone was so afraid of the virus that we had to wear masks all the time - in airports, restaurants and on the plane, all the way,” he said.
Covolan spent three weeks in his home city of Curitiba, capital of the southern state of Parana.
But he was not allowed to fly direct back to the UK.
“I had to go through Germany, stop there, and then back to England,” he explained.
Then, when Covolan returned to Torquay, he had to go straight into a fortnight’s ‘isolation’.
“I live near the town centre, only a short walk from the beach, but I literally did not leave my flat for two weeks - it was very hard,” he said.
“I couldn’t go out at all, but I respected the rules.
“The hardest part for me, as a professional footballer, was not being able to work out properly - I was doing exercises indoors, and the club had given me a bicycle, but I couldn’t go out and ride it.
“I have been working hard the last few weeks, but it was tough at the time.”
Covolan played in 29 of United’s 40 league and cup games, with Shaun MacDonald appearing in the other 11.
“Obviously, I want to play all the time and so does Shaun, so we push each other,” he said.
“I am really looking forward to next season. Most of the players know each other from last season, which is good for the ‘chemistry’.”
Even at 29, Covolan believes he has a long career ahead of him.
“Goalkeepers get better as they get older, and they can go on for many years - my idol has always been Buffon in Italy,” he said.
“I love him. He is 42 now and still playing at the highest level.
“I like to dream big, but my main target is to do my best for the team and work hard, so when an opportunity comes along, I will be ready for it.
“As the gaffer always says ‘You have to be ready to be lucky’.”