Guardian Media’s Ryan Bachoo iinterviews former FIFA vice president Jack Warner about his COVID-19 experience.

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For a man who faced lawsuits throughout his professional life and now battling extradition to the United States, Jack Warner has been bruised by the battles he has fought. But nothing could compare to the fight he was up against in early September. The former FIFA vice-president was admitted to the Couva Hospital at midnight on September 1 having been diagnosed earlier in the day with COVID-19.

It came less than three weeks after a busy general election season had ended. Warner had campaigned with his Independent Liberal Party (ILP) for the seat of Lopinot/Bon Air West.

“I always thought that I would not contract this thing. For some reason I thought that I could insulate myself against this, but I guess the election campaign contributed to this. Sometimes I wore my mask, other times I did not,” Warner told Guardian Media in a sit-down interview at his office in Arouca.

He remembers how ‘first-class’ the Couva Hospital looked as he was ushered to his room.

“I must confess the facility there is first-class. God alone knows why the government is not using it. The kitchen is first-class. The service from the medical staff is first-class,” he said.

But if the facility was first-class the food didn’t quite live up to expectation. Warner said it arrived cold mainly because it was coming from Mt Hope.

In all, the former ILP political leader would spend 12 days at the Couva Hospital. At 77, the experience would transform his life. He said, “I was the most frightened person. My age for one thing did not help. I have never taken so many injections in my life. In fact, I felt like I was a pin cushion when I left there.”

On day 10 of his stay, well-known businessman, Cedric ‘Burkie’ Burke, had arrived the floor beneath Warner, also diagnosed with COVID-19.

“The amount of commotion you had there to bring in Burke,” Warner recalled. The eventual death of Burke would stun Warner.

“I thought this was a forewarning of things to come for me and I said to myself, ‘I have to fight this’ and I prayed as if I have never prayed before. I think prayers, in many ways, were able to help me overcome this,” he added.

When Warner was discharged his wife continued his ‘first-class’ care at home giving him his meals through a hole in the door. As many supporters as Warner has, he has his detractors, but the former football administrator remembered how both wished him well in his days of need.

“I was inundated with calls, best wishes, calls for a speedy recovery, prayers and even some of my detractors were benevolent and kind,” he explained.

Warner was kind in his assessment of the Rowley government’s handling of the virus, saying, “I think initially they handled it pretty okay. I think now it is being politicised in a way it shouldn’t. In fact, because they handled it pretty okay in the beginning that is why I feel they were successful at the polls on August 10.”

Now, having fully recovered from the virus, it’s back to his usual battles.