Former Sporting Kansas City player Toni Dovale has turned in his jersey for a pharmacists coat in a fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Dovale, who played one season for Sporting, was playing in Thailand before returning to Spain for the holidays. But when the outbreak started, Dovale was forced to stay in Spain so he went to work in his family’s small pharmacy in the northwest city of A Coruña.
“I was packing my bags to go back to Asia for the new season, but the situation with the virus started to become tough,” the 30-year-old Dovale told The Associated Press this week. “I was not expecting to work now, but the only thing I could do was help. It was the right moment to come into the pharmacy and help my people.”
Spain reportedly has more than 140,000 confirmed cases with nearly 14,000 deaths. The country has been in a lockdown since mid-March and that’s expected to last until at least the end of April.
“I decided that the best thing I could do was to help my community, to come to the pharmacy and try to help people, to do my best so we can get back to our normal lives as soon as possible and hopefully I can go back to playing soon,” said Dovale, who has a pharmacy degree.
“With everything that is going on in our society, it was the moment for me to take a step forward,” he said. “I know there is a risk, because I’m exposed to the virus, it’s an uncomfortable situation, but I think that in the tough times it’s always the time to take a step forward and show your character.”
Dovale, who started at the famed Barcelona youth academy alongside Jonathan dos Santos, signed with Celta de Vigo at the age of 16. He signed with Sporting Kansas City, where he made 19 appearances (14 starts) with one goal and three assists in the 2014 season.
He returned to his native Spain to play for CD Lugo, CD Leganes and Rayo Vallecano. Dovale competed for Bengaluru FC in India and was playing with Thai club Navy FC before the coronavirus pandemic left him stuck in Spain and led to the end of his contract.