Hatters defender Lockyer would love to play again but knows any decision is out of his hands

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Centre half continues to recover from a cardiac arrest

Luton defender Tom Lockyer has admitted he would love to be able to play football again one day, but knows any decision on his future will be dictated by the medical advice he receives, plus speaking to his family as well.

The 29-year-old, who has over 450 career games to his name for club and country, suffered an on-field cardiac arrest during Luton’s Premier League clash at AFC Bournemouth back in December, which led to his heart stopping for two minutes and 40 seconds before being resuscitated. Having had a ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator) fitted, he is now recovering at home, but well enough to return to Kenilworth Road for the club’s last three Premier League matches, as he was part of the Sky Sports punditry team for yesterday’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester United.

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Discussing his recollections of the incident ahead of kick-off, Lockyer, who also suffered an atrial fibrillation against Coventry City in May, was asked if he had given any consideration to playing again, saying: “I think that’s out of my hands to a certain degree. Obviously we’re going to be dictated to by the medical staff and the specialists, but what I would say is if there is a chance I could play again, I’m not going to do anything against any of the specialist recommendations, then I would love to. It’s far too early to say at this time, there’s a lot more tests and things that need to happen in the background, but I wouldn’t just write it off at the minute.

Town defender Tom Lockyer shares a joke with fellow pundit Jamie Redknapp ahead of Luton's game with Manchester United on Sunday - pic: Shaun Botterill/Getty ImagesTown defender Tom Lockyer shares a joke with fellow pundit Jamie Redknapp ahead of Luton's game with Manchester United on Sunday - pic: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Town defender Tom Lockyer shares a joke with fellow pundit Jamie Redknapp ahead of Luton's game with Manchester United on Sunday - pic: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

"I would like that, but there’s no way I’m going to go against any medical advice I receive, so it’s way too early to put a timeframe on anything at the minute. I'm incredibly grateful to be alive and that’s a given, but I’ve got my device fitted now and I almost feel invincible. If the medical stuff comes back and I’m not allowed to play, I’ve got to look at it as I have captained Luton in the Premier League and I have scored a goal.”

With Lockyer’s partner ready to give birth in the not too distant future, then sitting down with his family and those closest to him will form an incredibly important part of his decision-making process. The centre half continued: “My priority is with the baby and in the past I may have been quite selfish in decisions that I’ve made, I think we all have been as athletes, that I’ll do what’s best for me and you almost forget about your family.

"But now having seen what they’ve had to deal with in my situation and the baby on the way it’s made me almost feel a little bit bad in the past for some of the decisions I’ve made. We all want what’s best for us on the football pitch, but the family has to come first and that’s made me realise that maybe I have been a little bit selfish in the past and making decisions at this time."

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With a few other players going through just what Lockyer has, including Danish international Christian Eriksen, who was on the bench for Manchester United at Kenilworth Road, he has been in contact with a number of them, saying: “They’ve all been brilliant, I’ve spoken to Christian, Daily Blind and Charlie Wyke who have all had similar heart related conditions and the one thing that was the common theme with them all was take your time, really just take your time to process what's happened.

"In a way, I don’t know whether I have processed what’s happened, but maybe because us as athletes, we can deal with things a little bit differently. We can compartmentalise and I don’t know whether it might come back and bite me on the bum, but I’ve not really had any emotions. Obviously I know I literally died, but I’ve been quite numb to the whole thing since, but those guys, the common theme there was take your time with things, make sure you do what’s right for you and your family and my girlfriend. The baby is due now and that’s where my priority is at the minute.”

With Lockyer well enough to return to the Brache and see his team-mates, plus be involved with Sky, he did state that if he can ever get back to being a player again, he will never take things for granted as he might have in the past, adding: “I've been sat at home doing Legos and jigsaws, DIY, getting the baby’s room ready but it’s nice to get out, go back into training and come and join you guys.

“It was hard (going back to training), because I was back in amongst it and I wanted to be involved in that way. I remember sitting in on the meeting before the Brighton game and thinking if I ever have to sit in on a meeting again, I’m never going to take it for granted as you know what it’s like when you have meeting after meeting when you’re playing. Sometimes you’re thinking, oh another meeting, and I remember just sitting there thinking I wish this was applying for me.

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"I'm incredibly lucky to be stood here and be in such good spirits, but I am really well. It's not something that happens every day, so the eyes of the world were almost on us. It was nice to be able to come out and say I am doing well, I think everyone deserves to know that, and see me doing really well. I can’t lie, it has been a tough couple of months, but I am well.”