Mark Wright spoke about the “hardest few weeks” of his life as he urged people to “obey the rules” during the coronavirus lockdown.
The former The Only Way Is Essex star was speaking on Monday morning after making his debut for Crawley Town football club at the weekend which saw them beat Leeds 3-0 in the FA Cup.
The 33-year-old told ITV’s Good Morning Britain of the impact Covid-19 has had on his own family.
He told presenters Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid: “My dad is out of hospital now, one of my dad’s other brothers is in hospital – he’s doing OK, he’s on oxygen – and my dad’s other brother … he’s in a critical condition as we speak.”
He also referred to Good Morning Britain presenter Kate Garraway, whose husband, Derek Draper, remains in hospital after being admitted with coronavirus in March last year.
The reality TV star turned professional sportsman said: “The message is what it should have been and has been from the start, like Kate (Garraway) has tried to promote on Good Morning Britain, until you see it first hand, that might be the day you realise ‘I need to buck up my ideas’ – but then it might be too late.”
He went on: “I have good friends who are conspiracy theorists and they think it’s all rubbish and you don’t need to be locking down the country. My answer is, the Government, whether they are right or wrong, they know more than you. So, if they are telling you to do this, do it.
“Because, until you get to a point where I am now – and I’ve had the hardest few weeks of my life and looking at basically potentially losing family members who are close to you or them being very sick … you will regret doing what you are doing.
“So listen to the rules, stay at home, there is a lockdown for a reason. Please just obey these rules. It’s so important. When you see it first hand, it’s the most scariest virus you will ever see.
“The things it does to the body, what it’s done to my dad. He’s out of hospital and I hope he doesn’t mind me saying this but mentally something is not right there at the moment.
“He’s OK, but he’s not my dad he was four weeks ago. He’s better and I’m hoping there’s more improvement to come. But it can leave long-lasting problems.”
The TV and radio presenter, who is married to former Coronation Street actress Michelle Keegan, also spoke about the “buzz” of the moment at the weekend which saw him take to the field as a substitute in the last few minutes of the FA Cup game.
His younger brother Josh, who previously played for Leyton Orient, has also been signed up to play for Crawley Town.
Wright said: “It was an incredible moment – obviously I only got a few minutes – but just to be part of that squad and that team that I’ve been playing with for three months.
“You’ve got that togetherness straight away, so to see the boys perform like that was sensational. But to come on and make my debut in the FA Cup against Leeds while my brother was making his debut as well… It was a special moment and one I’ll never forget and my family will never forget.”