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Lockyer: I literally died after heart stopped for two minutes and 40 seconds

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 abandoned Premier League game against Bournemouth in December, 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, Lockyer, who also suffered a collapse during May’s Championship play-off victory against Coventry, told Sky Sports: “I literally died but I have been numb to the whole thing since.

“It was just a normal day, and that was the most worrying thing because I felt completely fine.

Luton Town's Tom Lockyer arrives ahead of the Premier League match at Kenilworth Road, Luton. 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. Picture date: Sunday February 18, 2024.
Image: Lockyer spoke to Sky Sports ahead of Luton’s home game against Man Utd

“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 okay 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.”

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Luton captain Lockyer was given the warmest of receptions on his return to Kenilworth Road

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 okay, 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.”

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.

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Lockyer returned to the side’s training ground for the first time since suffering a cardiac arrest against Bournemouth in December

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 added: “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.”

Sky News
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