The Euro 2020 football championships were today rocked by a coronavirus crisis after Scotland’s star midfielder Billy Gilmour tested positive for Covid-19 just three days after facing England.
The 20-year-old Chelsea footballer will now be forced to self-isolate for 10 days, hours after playing a major role in Scotland’s goalless draw with England at Wembley Stadium last Friday in his first start for the national team.
Gilmour was seen hugging some of his Chelsea team-mates after the match – and there could now be doubts over both Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount prior to England’s final group game against the Czech Republic on Tuesday.
No other Scotland players have been affected or identified as close-contacts, meaning all will be available as they face Croatia in a winner-takes-all Group D clash at Hampden Park in Glasgow, which is also on Tuesday at 8pm.
But Gilmour will play no part in the match for Scotland, who are in their first major tournament since World Cup 1998. They sit bottom of Group D with one point and need to beat Croatia to have a chance of progression.
As for England, all 26 players and the wider support team returned negative results after the latest round of PCR testing by UEFA on Sunday – the full squad are expected to train at Spurs Lodge in Chigwell this morning.
The Scottish and English football associations remained in talks with Public Health England this morning regarding close contacts of Gilmour, but none have been identified. An SFA spokesman said: ‘The Scottish FA can confirm that a member of the Scotland national team playing squad, Billy Gilmour, has tested positive for Covid-19.
‘Having liaised with Public Health England since the positive test was recorded, Billy will now self-isolate for 10 days and therefore miss tomorrow’s UEFA Euro 2020 Group D match against Croatia at Hampden.’
Scotland have not yet confirmed if Gilmour has received his Covid-19 jabs, but this is viewed as unlikely due to his young age and involvement in elite sport which would mean he may not want to risk getting any side effects.
Half a dozen other teams in the tournament, which has been delayed by a year, have also suffered Covid-19 cases – and Gilmour’s positive test is the second to hit the Scotland camp since the squad met up earlier this month.
All Euro 2020 teams are living in a bubble and avoiding all contact with the public for the duration of their involvement in the tournament. Players are having regular PCR tests – with everyone getting tested 48 hours before every match as per UEFA regulations – and their temperatures are taken when they arrive at stadiums.
Scotland’s Billy Gilmour challenges Harry Kane of England during the Euro 2020 Group D match at Wembley last Friday
Gilmour was seen hugging two of his Chelsea team-mates, Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount, after Friday’s match at Wembley
The absence of Gilmour, pictured before the match on Friday (left), is a blow to boss Steve Clarke (right, together)
Billy Gilmour (far right) celebrates with Scotland team-mates after he helped his side to a 0-0 draw against England on Friday
Gilmour’s mother Carrie was in attendance at Wembley to celebrate his performance against England last Friday
Any player, coach or official who returns a positive result is immediately removed from the group and quarantined, followed by universal testing of the entire squad and any known contacts.
What are the Covid-19 rules during Euro 2020? How Gilmour must isolate along with any others who had close contact
All Euro 2020 teams are living in a bubble and avoiding all contact with the public for the duration of their involvement.
Players are having regular PCR tests and their temperatures are taken when they arrive at stadiums.
Any player, coach or official who returns a positive Covid-19 result is immediately removed from the group and quarantined in order to contain any potential outbreak. Team-mates or staff who have had close contact with the infected players must do the same.
Opposition players are not deemed close contacts unless they spend an extended period of time with the positive player. Teams must fulfil their Euro fixtures as long as they have a minimum of 13 players available.
Opposition players are not deemed close contacts unless they spend an extended period of time with the positive player.
Guidance from England’s FA states match play is not considered ‘close contact’ so no action is needed unless individuals experience symptoms, in which case they must self-isolate from that point as per Government guidance.
Sheffield United midfielder John Fleck sat out both of the Scots’ warm-up fixtures against Holland and Luxembourg after contracting the virus, and another six players missed the 2-2 draw with the Dutch as a precaution, although they were not formally designated close contacts of Fleck.
Soon after news broke of Gilmour’s positive test at about 10.30am this morning, a video surfaced from the team hotel where the young midfielder was seen enjoying playing ping pong.
Taken on Andy Robertson’s Instagram story, the video shows Gilmour, along with John McGinn, unwinding with a game in the team hotel. The video has since been deleted from the Liverpool full-back’s Instagram account.
Sportsmail has learned that there are no close contacts in the Scotland camp that will be forced into isolation as a result of the positive test.
Gilmour was left out of the side for the opening group defeat to Czech Republic but proved a revelation in the match at Wembley against England.
Both Scotland and England players are routinely tested for Covid-19 and the task now will be to determine if Gilmour is merely an isolated case of a positive result.
The Blues youngster was hailed by Patrick Vieira, Graeme Souness and Gary Neville as a difference maker in 76 minutes at Wembley in what was his first start for his country.
‘I really love his technical ability. He loves to get on the ball,’ Vieira said on ITV. ‘His team-mates aren’t scared to give him the ball because they know how good he is on the ball. I think he has a really good future ahead of him.’
The youngster has been so impactful in the early part of his career that he has claimed the man-of-the-match gong on his first appearances in the Premier League, the FA Cup, the Champions League and the Euros.
A video, which has since been deleted by Andy Robertson, emerged of Gilmour playing ping pong in the Scotland team hotel
Referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz speaks to Gilmour during the match against England at Wembley last Friday
Billy Gilmour, pictured during Friday’s match, has tested positive for Covid-19, the Scottish Football Association confirmed
Gilmour battles for the ball with England’s Raheem Sterling during the Euro 2020 match at Wembley Stadium last Friday
Scotland were looking to Gilmour to inspire a win in their crucial final game against Croatia, which takes place tomorrow
Gilmour poses for a photograph with his Heineken ‘Star of the Match’ award after the Euro 2020 match last Friday
Gilmour was almost certain to be the leader of the midfield on Tuesday at Hampden for the match-up against Croatia. But his enforced absence arrives as a crushing blow for Scotland and their hopes of progressing.
Even if Scotland progress without him, his 10-day isolation period would also rule him out of any last-16 tie all but ending his Euros run after one game.
Having outshone a string of Premier League players on Friday night, Gilmour was expected to start again against Croatia, with the tantalising prospect of him going head-to-head with Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric.
But manager Steve Clarke will now need to rethink his plans. Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay, who slotted back into a defensive role against England, is likely to be returned to his usual position protecting the back three. Clarke is due to hold a press conference today at 5.45pm.
Left to right, England’s John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane and Harry Maguire train in Chigwell today
Chilwell was all smiles in England training on Monday morning as Gareth Southgate’s squad prepared for their next match
Ben Chilwell is challenged by Bukayo Saka and Luke Shaw as Reece James looks on during an England training session today
England’s Jack Grealish during a training session at Spurs Lodge in Chigwell this morning ahead of tomorrow’s match
England’s Harry Maguire (left), Harry Kane (centre) and Jordan Henderson during a training session this morning
Earlier this year, experts told the Sunday Times in March that there had not been a single instance of on-field transmission of Covid-19 in UK football, rugby union, rugby league or American football.
Professor James Calder, the independent chairman of the government’s committee on the return of elite sport, said all instances of Covid-19 being transmitted within football had happened away from the pitch.
He said at the time: ‘We have not had any cases of transmission on the pitch in football. It is what happens off the pitch, in the changing rooms, car-sharing, [not] social distancing that appears to be the risk.
‘There was concern contact sports such as rugby could have very different problems compared to football and cricket but those sports have done very good work to identify the risks on the field.’
A Premier League study last year showed players would be within the infection distance of two metres, if one player on the pitch had the virus, for an average of just 39 seconds during a match.