Michael Essien has spoken of the moment he received a phone call from his doctor who believed he had the Ebola virus.
The former Chelsea midfielder was the victim of an internet scam after rumours spread that he's contracted the deadly Ebola virus following an outbreak in western Africa earlier late last year.
Essien moved quickly to dismiss the rumours but not before it had gone viral. Now speaking in an interview with the Guardian the 31-year-old has admitted that the hoax affected him deeply.
Asked by the Guardian ahead of his 32nd birthday about his year, Essien replied: Well, my most memorable thing wasn’t the most pleasant. The whole Ebola hoax …
He continued: "It was a Sunday. I trained as usual that morning and went home in the afternoon to relax and chill out. Then I got a call from our club doctor who told me there was news out that I had Ebola. I said: “How can I have Ebola? You saw me this morning at training so what do you mean I have Ebola?
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"Within minutes, my media team had sent me Twitter messages of the hoax and websites on which it was trending. We joked about it and put it to bed. But within 45 to 60 minutes, it was all over the news and I was getting messages from friends, family and ordinary people asking how I was.
"I was even getting get well soon messages and that’s when it dawned on me that I had to do something to stop it getting out of hand. So, together with Milan and our media team we released a statement clearly stating it was a hoax and there was no truth in the rumour that I had Ebola. And that’s when the whole thing started to die down. Still, it took about two days or so for people to actually stop talking about it."
Essien left Chelsea in January to join AC Milan, putting pen to paper on a one-and-a-half year deal. The Ghanian international has played 14 league games for the Italian giants so far, scoring two goals in the process.
Ebola has taken the life of almost 7,000 people since the outbreak began back in Guinea, and Essien is now backing the #UnitedAgstEbola campaign.