POPULAR former Southend United defender Mark Phillips is recovering in self isolation after being diagnosed with coronavirus.

The 38-year-old – who made 114 appearances for the Shrimpers – is still struggling with his breathing.

And Phillips has stressed the need for people to stay at home.

“I’m self isolating, I’m having to rest and not see my family or children but what struck me was how scary this was and people really do need to stay at home,” said Phillips.

“I am fit and healthy and relatively young but straight away I realised how and why this is making people severely ill and killing people too.

“It really is so serious and I can’t stress enough that by going out people are risking their lives and their family’s lives too.”

Phillips had only been leaving his house to buy essential food for the family and had been wearing a face mask whenever he was outside.

The ex defender was also regularly washing his hands with alcohol wipes.

But last Thursday Phillips began to feel unwell.

“I got a headache but it was different to usual as my whole head was hurting,” said Phillips.

“I could control it with paracetamol and could carry on as usual.

“After that I got a cough and a sore throat but I still thought it was just man flu as I had no temperature.

“But gradually my chest was really hurting and breathing outside air was really hurting.

“I rested up but by Tuesday I had no smell or taste and that was my confirmation that I actually had coronavirus and not just a cold.”

From there, Phillips’ chest began to tighten.

“It was like someone was squeezing it from inside and breathing was tough,” said Phillips.

“By Wednesday evening things were not great and I couldn’t get a few words out without coughing a lot but there’s no breath while you cough or anything to clear as you have no breath if that makes sense.”

As a result Phillips – who had to conduct the interview via Twitter – called 111 before being taken to hospital.

“In the hospital it was confirmed I had coronavirus,” said Phillips.

“Luckily my oxygen levels were OK but at present I’m still very weak and have chest pains.

“I’m short of breath and I’ve been given an inhaler to help with my breathing.

“It’s horrible and I just really want to stress that people need to stay at home as your family and friends’ immune systems may not be as strong and could kill them.”