‘I literally died’ - Luton’s Tom Lockyer describes life-threatening collapse

Luton Town defender Tom Lockyer during the English championship Premier League football match between Bournemouth and Luton Town on 16 December 2023 at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, England

The 29-year-old Tom Lockyer was fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator after he was hospitalised for five days following the shocking incident. Picture: Ian Stephen / ProSportsImages / DPPI via AFP

Published Feb 19, 2024


Luton captain Tom Lockyer has revealed his heart stopped for two minutes and 40 seconds during an on-pitch cardiac arrest that left his life in the balance.

Lockyer collapsed in the second half of Luton's Premier League game against Bournemouth on December 16.

The 29-year-old was fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator after he was hospitalised for five days following the shocking incident.

Wales defender Lockyer, who also collapsed during Luton's Championship play-off final victory against Coventry last season, spoke about his near-death experience prior to his club's 2-1 defeat against Manchester United on Sunday.

Just a normal day

"It was just a normal day, and that was the most worrying thing because I felt completely fine," he told Sky Sports.

"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'."

'I was alive’

Lockyer was eventually revived after two minutes and 40 seconds that threatened to end his life.

"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," he said.

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

Lockyer said his family's anguish during the ordeal made it even harder to process what had happened while he recovered.

"It was hardest on my family having to watch that. They had it worse than me. My old man was there and my girlfriend was seven months pregnant at the time," he said.

"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.

"I don't know if I have processed what happened. 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.

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

"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," he said.

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