The moment football STOPPED as Tom Lockyer suffered a cardiac arrest

The moment football STOPPED: The ground fell silent as medics rushed on after Luton captain Tom Lockyer suffered a cardiac arrest… fearful fans were in tears and hoped for the best

  • Welsh player is ‘stable’ in hospital, medical staff from Luton have confirmed 
  • Premier League match was abandoned with players deciding not to continue
  • WARNING: Article contains distressing images 

Not again. Surely, not again. That was the first thought. The second was fear, worry and concern all rolled into one for a dedicated professional footballer fighting for his life.

Tom Lockyer lay prone on the turf with play continuing at the other end of the field. His manager, Rob Edwards, sprinted on to the pitch, aware that we were witnessing a life-threatening incident.

The referee’s whistle soon blew as the seriousness of the situation dawned on everyone from the stands to the pitch to the press box at this compact little ground on the south coast.

Edwards was soon shepherding distraught players away from the scene like the responsible, impressive young manager he is.

It had happened again though. Lockyer had collapsed on a football pitch for the second time in seven months. Everyone inside the ground hoped and prayed for the best but feared the worst.

Luton captain Tom Lockyer was treated by medical staff after collapsing in the second half

Luton manager Rob Edwards raced onto the pitch as Lockyer began receiving treatment

A visibly distraught Hatters manager Rob Edwards following the distressing incident 


Christian Eriksen Jun 2021

The midfielder collapsed during Denmark’s game against Finland at Euro 2020. The match continued and Eriksen returned to football with Brentford, and is now with Manchester United.

Fabrice Muamba Mar 2012

Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapsed during an FA Cup game against Spurs. His heart stopped beating for 78 minutes before he was resuscitated. He retired five months later aged 24.

Marc-Vivien Foe Jun 2003

The Cameroon midfielder collapsed and died during a Confederations Cup match against Colombia. The 28-year-old was taken off on a stretcher but attempts to restart his heart failed.

Cheick Tiote Jun 2017

Four months after leaving Newcastle, the midfielder suffered a cardiac arrest during a training session with Chinese League One side Beijing Enterprises. He died in hospital, aged 30.

Bafetimbi Gomis Aug 2020

The French striker has collapsed several times on the pitch due to a heart condition that causes him to faint. He did so at Swansea in 2015 and Galatasaray in 2018 before happening again with Al-Hilal in 2020.

Iker Casillas May 2019

The legendary goalkeeper suffered a heart attack in training with Porto and was taken to hospital and forced into retirement. Casillas suffered another scare two years later while playing padel tennis.

They had come to see a football match between two Premier League sides fighting for survival and were now left resigned to watching a 29-year-old man fight for his life.

For the 10 minutes or so between Lockyer suffering a cardiac arrest and getting carried off the pitch on a stretcher, you thought of Lockyer and his family, his friends, his loved ones. They had been through it at May’s Wembley play-off final and were going through it again.

Those in Luton colours were visibly distressed. Lockyer’s team-mate Issa Kabore was on his knees and praying by the side of the pitch. Edwards was close to tears. And so were the Bournemouth players and pretty much everyone else inside the Vitality Stadium.

In June, the Luton captain was given the ‘all clear’ to play football again after his Wembley trauma. Surely now, he won’t play again but that is a story for another day. Thankfully, Lockyer was ‘stable’ and ‘responsive’ last night.

But in that moment, as he was attended to by the medical staff, you thought of Lockyer and your own loved ones. How at any second something devastating can happen. When the news came that he was ‘alert’, the relief around the ground was palpable. As if a huge weight had been lifted from everyone’s shoulders. For this could easily have ended up as one of football’s darkest days.

For just shy of an hour, this was any normal Premier League contest as two well-organised teams went toe-to-toe.

Edwards’s Luton side had taken a third-minute lead against an in-form Bournemouth before Dominic Solanke equalised after half-time and the game was finely poised.

Yet all that become irrelevant. It was Bournemouth’s Philip Billing who got to Lockyer first and waved his hands calling for medical attention. He then checked if the Luton skipper was still conscious as the rest of the players on the pitch surrounded the stricken 29-year-old defender.

Immediately, Edwards recognised the gravity of the situation and with the Luton medical staff did not wait for permission to enter the field of play. 

Bournemouth and Luton players were taken off the pitch by referee Simon Hooper

There was clear anxiety among the Luton players and staff as Lockyer received treatment

After confirmation the match was abandoned, both sets of players showed fans their appreciation by walking around the Vitality Stadium pitch

Within minutes, the referee Simon Hooper made the decision to take the players off the pitch as the ground fell silent.

For over 10 minutes, medical staff from both sides and paramedics attended to Lockyer on the pitch before carefully removing him once he was ‘responsive’, with an oxygen mask over his face.

Within half an hour of the Wales international suffering the cardiac arrest and shortly before 5pm, confirmation came from the Premier League that the match was officially abandoned with players from both sides ‘in no state of mind to continue with the game’.

From the public address system inside the ground, Bournemouth’s club announcer, Mike Botto, confirmed to the fans that the game had been called off.

Both sets of players then came back on to the pitch to applaud the fans, who joined in with the applause, with Edwards the last man off the pitch, wiping away tears as he went.

Back in May, Lockyer spent five days in hospital after watching his side seal promotion from his hospital bed and had an operation to fix an atrial fibrillation — described as ‘an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate’ — before he was given the all clear to play again.

Medical staff from both clubs and paramedics worked together after Lockyer’s collapse 

Both sets of players applauded the crowd after confirmation of the match being abandoned

Luton manager Rob Edwards appeared visibility emotional during the lap around the pitch 

Lockyer’s dad Steve posted this picture of his family celebrating Luton’s Premier League promotion after his collapse on the Wembley pitch in May 

In June, Lockyer said: ‘I’ve had the operation to fix it and it shouldn’t happen again. There’s not really any reason to say why that happened.

Chilling Wembley memories

Lockyer’s collapse brought back harrowing memories of what happened to him at Wembley in May.

The Luton skipper suffered a similar collapse during his side’s Championship play-off final win over Coventry City. 

He was rushed to hospital and underwent heart surgery to fix an atrial fibrillation.

‘I’ve been given the all-clear — it is what it is and I just want to draw a line under it now and move on.’

Luton medical staff later confirmed that Lockyer had suffered a cardiac arrest but that he was stable and responsive by the time he was taken off on the stretcher.

Lockyer was then transferred to Royal Bournemouth hospital for further tests, with his family at his bedside.

A Luton statement said: ‘We are sorry to all supporters present that players from both sides were in no state of mind to continue with the game after seeing their much-loved team-mate and friend taken off like that, and staff could not carry on with managing the game in such circumstances, having had to deal with the situation.

‘We all hope and pray for our leader and captain Tom Lockyer, who is thankfully responsive and has now been taken to hospital. We thank Bournemouth and the medical staff on both sides for their immediate response, which was absolutely amazing.

‘Tom was transferred to hospital, where we can reassure supporters that he is stable and currently undergoing further tests with his family at his bedside.

‘We would like to thank everyone for their support, concern and loving messages for ‘Locks’.’

Bournemouth responded to Luton’s update on Lockyer’s condition, saying: ‘We are relieved to hear that Tom is responsive. Our thoughts will continue to be with Tom and his family at this time.

Luton said  players were in ‘no state of mind’ to continue the match after Lockyer’s collapse

A Luton fan in the away end of the Vitality Stadium is caught up in the emotion of the moment

Lockyer collapsed on the Wembley pitch during the Championship play-off final in May

After Luton defeated Coventry, they held up a Lockyer 4 shirt in honour of their team-mate

‘We would like to thank all the medical staff for their quick action as well as all the supporters inside the stadium for their support and unity during what was a difficult moment.’

For Lockyer sadly, there must be serious concerns now for his future career.

With two major incidents in the space of seven months, it is unlikely to see any way in which he will be permitted to carry on playing.

But all that is a conversation and a decision for another day.

For last night, the footballing world was ultimately left with a feeling of immense relief. Thankfully, after a traumatic day on the south coast, this did not end in another way.

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