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Tom Lockyer says he ‘literally died’ when heart stopped for nearly three minutes

Luton captain Tom Lockyer has said he “literally died” when his heart stopped for nearly three minutes on the pitch.

The Welshman, 29, collapsed in the 59th minute against Bournemouth on 16 December, with his father and seven-month pregnant girlfriend watching on as the game was called off.

Lockyer was fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator after he was in hospital for five days, just months after also collapsing – but returning – against Coventry in May last year.

Speaking to Sky Sports News for the first time at length since December, he said his heart stopped beating for two minutes and 40 seconds and isn’t sure he will ever play again.

But the ordeal was “hardest” on his family.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Fans stand with a banner for Tom Lockyer. Pic: PA
Image: Fans stand with a banner for Tom Lockyer. Pic: PA

Recalling what he could remember from the collapse against Bournemouth, he said it was “just a normal day”, which is “the most worrying thing” as he felt “completely fine”.

He said he was running towards the halfway line when he began to feel light-headed.

He then woke up to paramedics and “knew instantly” it was different to his collapse against Coventry.

“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,” he said.

“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 have, not being able to respond, and you can see the panic going on.”

His voice cracked 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.”

“I literally died, but I have been numb to the whole thing since,” he added.

Lockyer had an emotional reunion with his teammates at the Luton’s training ground last month – his first visit since he collapsed.

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

Luton Town manager Rob Edwards enters the field of play as his player Tom Lockyer receives treatment on the pitch during the Premier League match at the Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth. Picture date: Saturday December 16, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Bournemouth. Photo credit should read: Steven Paston/PA Wire..RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
Image: Tom Lockyer receiving treatment on the pitch during the match against Bournemouth. Pic: PA

Speaking ahead of his side’s clash with Manchester United, he said: “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.

Read more:
Tom Lockyer thanks ‘heroes’ who saved his life

“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 Source