Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang said he thought he was suffering the effects of post-Interlull travel after his return from Gabon in March.
The striker felt tired during the Gunners 3-0 defeat to Liverpool in early April, but didn’t consider the fact he might have contracted a potentially serious illness.
Speaking ahead of Arsenal’s Europa League semi-final second leg against Villarreal, Aubameyang revealed the extent to which malaria had debilitated him.
“I felt just a bit tired, especially against Liverpool but I thought it was just because of the travel,” he said.
“I was feeling very, very bad. I think this was my worst moment of being sick in my life because it was really hard. For three days in a row I had a fever all day and all night, non stop.
“Even the paracetamol and stuff had no effect on this so after that I spoke to the doctor and said I needed to go to the hospital because I had travelled to Africa so maybe it was something like malaria.
“I stayed in hospital for three days, I was really down and I think I lost 4kg, so it was a really bad moment and I think for my family it was a bit scary to see me like this.
“After this I had some good treatment, the stuff did very well and the doctors as well and I am lucky I took it at the right moment because sometimes with malaria if you don’t treat it quickly, you can have big problems.”
The captain estimates he’s at about 90% fitness right now, and did make a goalscoring return against Newcastle on Sunday. With a deficit to overturn tomorrow night against Villarreal, let’s hope what has been a difficult season for Aubameyang can end with a flourish.
Earlier, Mikel Arteta gave his full backing to the 31 year old after he’d been the subject of criticism from certain TV pundits for his – now understandable – sub-par performance against Liverpool.
“My job, my responsibility, is to protect our players and try to get the maximum out of them,” he said.
“We know certain things that the outside world doesn’t know. They can comment but sometimes without knowing all the details, which is a little bit unfair for the people.
“We make decisions that sometimes people are judging but without really knowing the detail. That criticism is part of our job.
“Auba played well [against Newcastle] and he felt much better than the days before. Obviously, scoring a goal is really important for him as well, so he’s in a good place.
“This game always gives you another opportunity. If you are there, then you are ready for the taking.
“He can turn things around really quickly so hopefully we can see that tomorrow.”