Wales' Connor Roberts on pneumonia scare & coping with Qatar heat

Scott Saunders
Connor Roberts is relishing his first World Cup with Wales
Connor Roberts is relishing his first World Cup with Wales / Huw Fairclough/GettyImages

Wales wing-back Connor Roberts has discussed the extent of a bout of pneumonia which he battled nearly 12 months ago, revealing his doctor was unable to tell his wife at one stage of whether he was able to pull through.

Roberts has been named in Robert Page's Wales squad for the World Cup in Qatar, and the team are set to face the United States on Monday in their Group B opener.

The 27-year-old has been a mainstay for Wales for a number of years, playing a key role at Euro 2020 and through their qualification for their first World Cup in 64 years, but Roberts spent time in hospital last year and admitted his perspective on life has changed due to the illness, but also the birth of his baby daughter.

"I had pneumonia and I was in hospital for a few days. I was really, really struggling," Roberts said.

"My wife was at home and she was asking the doctors, ‘is he going to be okay?’. He couldn’t actually give her the answer that I was going to be alright because a high percentage of people who have what I had, don’t actually make it.

"So, the fact that I am still playing, and can still do what I do, is a good thing.

"My life has changed a lot – I’ve got a baby daughter now - so I play football when I get the chance and when I play, I try and do my best. But if I’m useless, who cares? When I go home and see her, no-one can take that away from me."

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Roberts' game is based on high energy and covering a lot of ground - something Swansea, Burnley and Wales supporters have become accustomed to down the years, and the player admitted he did hold concerns during recovery whether he would be able to hit the same physical levels as before.

"I did worry about it because it affects the lungs and I had to have numerous scans," he continued. "I was told from the people who read those scans that what I had was severe. It wasn’t a small thing. 

"Everyone knows that I like to get up and down when I play, and run all day, so my lungs are obviously a massive part of the ability to do that. 

"I was a little bit worried. But when I came back for Burnley at the back end of last season, I felt sound. We have since qualified for a World Cup, so I can’t be doing that badly."

Wales have had to move their training sessions back by a few hours since arriving in Qatar due to the extreme heat, and are set to face Iran in their second group game on November 25 at 1pm local time - something which the players will have to contend with as they attempt to progress through the group.

Roberts, though, is relishing the challenge and isn't concerned - admitting the heat doesn't faze him: "I enjoy it. I’ve been on holiday a few times to Dubai and I like to run in the boiling heat, so it will be just the same. 

"Whenever I am wearing the Wales jersey, I feel I can run all day. I will just keep on going and going. I’m looking forward to it. It could be 100 degrees and it wouldn’t bother me. 

"It will be different conditions to those we are used to, but there’s nothing I haven’t experienced before. I’ve played in Croatia and in Baku and other places, so I’ll be fine."