Tom Lockyer collapse was 'scariest moment of my life', says Luton manager Rob Edwards

Hatters captain suffered cardiac arrest on pitch during Premier League game at Bournemouth last Saturday

Luton Town captain Tom Lockyer in action during the game against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on December 16, 2023. AP
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Luton Town manager Rob Edwards has described the moment that Hatters captain Tom Lockyer collapsed suddenly on the pitch as “the scariest moment” of his life.

Lockyer suffered a cardiac arrest during the second half of Luton's Premier League match at Bournemouth, which was abandoned after the 29-year-old received emergency treatment on the field before being taken to hospital.

Lockyer had also collapsed on the pitch during Luton's Championship play-off win over Coventry City in May and subsequently underwent heart surgery but had been given the all-clear to play during the summer.

He was discharged from hospital five days after the latest collapse at the Vitality Stadium having had an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator device fitted. Luton have since said his cardiac arrest was different to the play-off final episode when he suffered atrial fibrillation.

And in the pre-match press conference for Saturday's home game with Newcastle United, Edwards talked about his shock when Lockyer went down – and his gratitude for the quick reactions of medical staff.

“It was the scariest moment I have ever had, never mind in football,” said Edwards.

“The medical guys were incredible. It was a crazy pressurised situation with the world watching and they got every decision bang on. I'm so proud of them. They saved him.

“Our medical guys, Bournemouth's, the paramedics that were there, they are real heroes.”

Lockyer has started a period of recovery and is expected not to feature for Luton in the coming weeks and months.

An ICD is a small battery-powered device placed in the chest that detects and stops irregular heartbeats. It delivers electric shocks, when needed, to restore a regular heart rhythm and Edwards said it was “too early to tell” whether Lockyer's playing career will be affected.

“He's recovering, it's baby steps now. Anyone will miss him. He's a leader, he's an inspirational figure for all of us,” Edwards added.

“It's too early to tell [on Lockyer's playing career]. Going forward it's about Tom recovering. He's had an operation and then we'll see going forward what that means.”

Meanwhile, Luton chief executive Gary Sweet has also paid tribute to the “heroic” medical staff who saved Lockyer’s life.

“It took two minutes from the point of going down to be resuscitated,” Sweet said. “It’s impressive, the actions of those protocols which ultimately saved him.

“They are all heroes, the Luton medical team, the Bournemouth medical team, the doctors and the paramedics were all exemplary. We cannot thank them enough.

“Absolutely [there is more to life than football]. Immediately when it happened we did not care about the game, it was not on our minds. It was all about his recovery.”

Sweet admitted the issue has been challenging to deal with and has been a learning experience for the club.

He added: “We’ve never done this before. It’s all learning for us. It’s thrown so many challenges our way and it’s been one very big challenge this week. This has all been about team spirit and gathering around Tom.

“The fact he was being taken home by people we know and was in safe hands gave us a sense of relief.”

Updated: December 23, 2023, 4:03 PM