Returning to training felt like being a child again, says Atletico's Savic

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MADRID (Reuters) - Atletico Madrid defender Stefan Savic has spoken of his joy at returning to train for the first time after being cooped up at home for over two months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Atletico's last match was their 3-2 win away to Champions League holders Liverpool to reach the quarter-finals of Europe's top competition.

But that euphoria was followed by uncertainty as Spain imposed a strict lockdown to prevent further spread of the virus, with even elite athletes only allowed out of the house to go to the supermarket or pharmacy. It was also the last professional football match played in England.

Spain's restrictions were eased last week and Atletico, like all clubs in Spain's top two divisions, returned to individual training as part of the league's four-step plan to return to activity.

"I felt like a little boy going to play with his friends on the field," Savic told a virtual news conference on Thursday.

"I felt very happy to be on the pitch again, training at home is just not the same."

Savic and his team mates are restricted to individual drills for now but are expected to start training in small groups from next week, subject to testing negative for the virus. Organisers La Liga hope the season can start up again on June 12.

A number of players in Spain and across Europe have expressed their fears about returning to training and matches and risking getting infected with the virus, but Savic had no complaints.

"I didn't have any fear about going out to train, I was really looking forward to returning because it's always better to train on the pitch than at home," he said.

"We lack the same freedom we had before and we still need to feel that contact with the other team mates. But we have already taken a big step with the individual work and it can help us get closer to what we want to do in the next few weeks, which is to get back to competing."

Savic also suggested he will not object to the league's plans for teams to live away from their families, quarantined in closed facilities, once the season re-starts until it ends.

"I wouldn't be bothered with being quarantined. I spent more than two months stuck quarantined inside my home on my own so I'd have no problem with that," he added.

(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Peter Graff)