Georgia Wilson: Footballer on her battle with long Covid-19

By Emma SandersBBC Sport
Georgia Wilson in action against Everton
Georgia Wilson (left) made her debut against Everton in September 2019

The Covid-19 pandemic changed everything for Georgia Wilson.

After testing positive for coronavirus in the middle of last season while playing for Bristol City, the 19-year-old midfielder found herself rebuilding her health and career.

After a summer of recovery from long Covid, Wilson has moved to Denmark to re-establish herself in football - something that had seemed so unlikely when she first tested positive.

"I didn't have any symptoms that were unusual and I wasn't too ill with it," Wilson, who had made two substitute appearances for Bristol City last season before contracting the virus, told BBC Sport.

"When I came back into training, I knew I wasn't ready. I was still a bit tired but it felt like nothing too serious.

"But when I started running again, I would go from one end of the pitch to the other and I was finished. I was out of breath and my head was spinning.

"I still didn't think too much about it because I just thought I was unfit."

Interim Bristol City manager Matt Beard noticed Wilson was not the same in training.

She visited the club doctor and spent extra time with the physios trying to build up her fitness.

"Matt saw other things I hadn't really picked up on. I was so focused on my fitness, I didn't see other symptoms," added Wilson.

"I would finish training, go home and just pass out straight away because I was exhausted. When the coaches were speaking in sessions, I found it really hard to concentrate. My head just wasn't there."

As weeks went on, Wilson's fitness did not improve and it affected her mentally.

"I was usually quite talkative in training but I became anxious," she said. "I didn't really talk to anyone about it. I felt a bit nervous.

"I was trying my hardest to get fit. I did things outside of training and nothing was changing. It was awful.

"I had no confidence whatsoever because I couldn't understand why I was so unfit. There were other girls who had Covid-19 and came straight back into training and were fine.

"I wasn't really speaking about it. There was no end date. The people around me must have just thought I was unfit. Nobody really thought I needed support."

Georgia Wilson in action against Manchester City
Georgia Wilson (right) faced World Cup winner Rose Lavelle when she came on as a substitute in the defeat to Manchester City in November 2020

Wilson told the club's medical staff she "could not breathe very well" and felt "wheezy" in her chest.

She was given an inhaler, but did not improve - and finally answers came in May when it was revealed she had an infected lung as a result of long Covid-19.

"It turned out one of my lungs had been infected and it had been growing," said Wilson.

"It was getting worse while I was training on it. I got some antibiotics to clear the lung infection and I gradually got fitter."

Having not featured in the Women's Super League since her illness in January, Wilson's contract ended at Bristol City. She left the club just 12 months after signing her first professional contract, having made 10 league appearances.

She had considered a move to the Women's Championship, as well as Italy - but now hopes she can get the playing time she needs with a fresh start in Aalborg at Danish Elitedivisionen side AaB.

"I also knew I wanted to get that experience of playing abroad to grow as a player and as a person," added Wilson, who has played for England's youth teams.

"They have treated me really nicely since I came over here. Where I'm living is a beautiful city so I've been able to see it and explore.

"But the end goal is always to be back in the WSL. The league is growing each year. I want to get back into the England set-up eventually too.

"I need to get more game time before I can start thinking about that."

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