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Meet the Italian Canaries co-founder battling COVID-19 on frontline in Bergamo

15 April 2020

The co-founder of the Italian Canaries supporters’ group has reinforced the important message around social distancing and self-isolation during the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

Roberto Bergonzi founded Anziani di Razza (translated as ‘old, but still cool’ in English) a year ago, forming a group of Italian nationals who share a common love for Norwich City.

Day-to-day, Roberto is a physiatrist in Bergamo, one of the cities in Italy worst-affected by COVID-19. In an exclusive interview with, Roberto spoke about how his role has changed over recent weeks.

“The hospital where I work, it became the COVID-19 central hospital in Italy,” he said. “There were 60 beds and that became 160 very quickly for patients affected by the virus.

“It’s a terrible disease. I saw young people in hospital also. The doctors made the mistake early on because when they decided to close the schools, they allowed children to play outside and visit grandparents. After this, the grandparents became ill.

“The message [of staying at home] is very important because people have to understand that many people in Italy have the coronavirus and unfortunately many of those people are asymptomatic. So, everybody needs to keep their distance and stay at home.

“The lockdown has been in place for almost eight weeks now. In Bergamo, people have understood the message because of the number of people who have died.

“The worst period for Bergamo was three weeks ago. Now, the situation is improving but we have to keep going with everything to beat the virus.”

Roberto’s love for the Canaries began when he and fellow fans created their own football club and decided to wear the famous yellow and green colours.

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The group had planned to visit Carrow Road in May for the Burnley fixture, but those plans have been placed on hold.

“One of us supports Juventus, someone else Inter and someone else Atalanta, but we all love Norwich City. We’ve been supporting them for one year.

“We were hoping to come and watch Norwich v Burnley on the Saturday in May and then play at Carrow Road on the Monday in a charity match. But now, it’s impossible!”

The current social distancing rules in place in Italy means face-to-face meetings are cancelled, but Roberto says the group are still in regular contact with each other.

“Our group still keeps in touch via Zoom. We share some moments with each, drinking some beers with our Norwich shirts on.

“We miss all of the football and we want to play football again and watch the games on the TV. But now it’s important to stay at home.”

To learn more about the Italian Canaries and other supporter groups, click here.

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