Sassuolo striker Francesco Caputo said that 'scared' Serie A players wanted the league stopped earlier because of the coronavirus crisis.
In the final Serie A game before a government announcement halting the league until 3 April, Sassuolo beat Brescia 3-0 behind closed doors in Reggio Emilia on Monday.
Caputo scored a brace and after his first goal held up a handwritten message on piece of paper, urging fans: "Everything will be fine. Stay at home."
A few hours later Italian Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte used similar words as he announced a countrywide lockdown.
"We thought that the championship would stop sooner," the 32-year-old Caputo told Sky Sports Italia.
"We want to protect our families. For example, at home I have my wife with three children, not letting them leave home is very difficult but we are very attentive to the rules, to contacts.
"We live in a dressing room every day, we are 30 people, it's not easy and we must safeguard everyone's health."
Caputo, who has scored 13 goals this season, said he had not told anyone about his message.
"It was my idea. I hadn't told anyone. I wanted to get this message across. It is a difficult period for the whole nation, it's absurd.
"Even those in the world of football didn't know until the last minute whether we would play are not.
"We regret this and we're afraid too. Now we must pull together and start again."