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Tom Lockyer recalls how his heart stopped for two minutes and 40 seconds

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 18 Feb 2024

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Luton captain Tom Lockyer said he “literally died” after his heart stopped for two minutes and 40 seconds during his harrowing on-pitch cardiac arrest.

The 29-year-old Welshman, speaking at length for the first time since he collapsed in the 59th minute of the Hatters’ abandoned Premier League game against Bournemouth on December 16, admitted it is “out of his hands” if he will ever play again.

Lockyer was fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator after he was hospitalised for five days.

Reliving the incident which rocked the football world, Lockyer, who also suffered a collapse during May’s Championship play-off victory against Coventry, told Sky Sports: “It was just a normal day, and that was the most worrying thing because I felt completely fine.

“I have been looking for answers since but I have not been able to find any because it was just another day at the office.

“I was running towards the halfway line and I went really light headed. I thought I’d be ok in a second but I wasn’t.

“I woke up and the paramedics were there. I knew instantly it was different to my collapse in May. Last time it felt like I woke up from a dream, and this time I woke up from nothingness.

“I could see there was more panic and I was a bit disorientated. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t move. I was trying to work out what was happening, and I remember thinking, ‘I could be dying here’.

“It was a surreal thought to to have, not being able to respond, and you can see the panic going on.”

Lockyer’s voice crackled as he continued: “I could feel them put the drip in my arm and it was a hard mix of emotions. Eventually I came round and I was able to speak and to respond. When I felt ok, it was then a relief I was alive.

“Following what happened in May, I have a recording device in my chest, and I was out for two minutes and 40 (seconds).

“It was hardest on my family having to watch that. They had it worse than me. My old man was there (at the match) and my girlfriend was seven months pregnant at the time.

“My mum was at home listening on the radio. She went off to make a cup of tea after Bournemouth scored, and when she came back my brother had turned the radio off. She asked ‘why’, and he had to say to her that Tom has gone down off the ball again.

“This is the bigger picture that people don’t see and that is the hardest part to deal with. I am not going to lie, it has been a tough couple of months.

“I don’t know if I have processed what happened. I don’t know if it will come back and bite me on the bum, but I have not had any emotions since what happened. I literally died but I have been numb to the whole thing since.”

Lockyer had an emotional reunion with his team-mates at the club’s training ground last month – his first visit to the Hatters’ Brache HQ since he collapsed.

The defender hopes he will be able to return to top-flight football, but said he will be subjected to further tests before he has an answer.

Lockyer, speaking ahead of his side’s clash with Manchester United, continued: “It is out of my hands (if he plays again).

“I am going to be dictated to by the medical staff and specialists. If there is a chance I could play again – and I am not going to do anything against medical advice – then I would love to.

“But it is far too early so say. There are tests that have to happen in the background. But I wouldn’t write it off yet.

“If I am not allowed to play again then I can say I captained Luton in the Premier League and I have scored a Premier League goal. I am very fortunate that I have had high moments in my career and scoring a Premier League goal is something you dream of as a kid.

“I am incredibly grateful to be alive. I have the device fitted now, and I almost feel invincible.”

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