Charlie Wyke says Man Utd’s Christian Eriksen inspired him to return to football after cardiac arrest

Charlie Wyke says Man Utd’s Christian Eriksen inspired him to return to football after cardiac arrest

Charlie Wyke says Christian Eriksen’s return to action following a cardiac arrest last summer has inspired him to follow in his footsteps.

Wigan striker Wyke collapsed when his heart stopped beating for four minutes during a training session in November.

In an incredible twist of fate, Wigan manager Leam Richardson was first on the scene to perform CPR – just two weeks after the management staff at the club had received training to learn how to perform the life-saving treatment.

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Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Birmingham and Wigan

Wyke has had a defibrillator fitted in his chest, akin to the one Manchester United midfielder Eriksen has, and made his comeback last weekend – coming off the bench to set up Wigan’s winner at Birmingham City.

It’s been a torrid nine months for the former Sunderland striker, who thought several times he was going to have to retire as a result of the hospital procedures he had to endure.

Wyke told Sky Sports in an exclusive interview: “It was the scariest day of my life. I was just training as normal and then, all of a sudden, I’ve woken up on the floor, my sleeves cut off, with five staff looking over me. I had no idea what had happened.

“The last thing I remember was walking over to the manager to tell him I was going to collapse but I couldn’t get my words out. I then found out later it was actually the gaffer who started the CPR process and got me breathing again.

“That journey to the hospital in the ambulance was so scary. When I got told it was a cardiac arrest I instantly thought my football career was finished. I was absolutely devastated.”

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Wigan manager Leam Richardson says medical training he received three weeks earlier helped him save Charlie Wyke’s life by performing CPR

Wyke was accompanied to hospital by Wigan club doctor Jonathan Tobin, who 10 years ago saved the life of Fabrice Muamba on the pitch at White Hart Lane.

Tobin back then was the club doctor at Bolton Wanderers, who Muamba played for. Tobin took over Wyke’s CPR from manager Richardson after arriving at the scene.

Tobin said: “The same with Fabrice, it was only afterwards it hit me. This was Charlie – not just another patient. He is a friend, a colleague, a team-mate. It really hit you emotionally. To see Charlie lying there like that was so tough.

“I can’t begin to tell you how hard it is to start resuscitation, even to recognise a cardiac arrest in the first place. It’s not just like he was lying there not moving.

“So for the gaffer to have the guts, intelligence and bravery to recognise what’s going on and act in the way he did was amazing.

“It’s hard enough for a doctor to do that, but for the gaffer to…it’s an unbelievably brave decision.”

Charlie Wyke
Wyke in action for Wigan

Wigan boss Richardson said: “I thought he was going to tell me he had a tight hamstring or something, but the events that took place after that were mind-blowing.

“Fortunately, me and my staff had received real, in-depth training just two weeks earlier. So thankfully I was able to call upon the training. Fortunately, we all did the right thing. But it was a real outer-body experience.”

Wyke says he is only here today thanks to the actions of his manager and the doctor.

He reflected: “I was told the manager caught me as I collapsed and within two seconds, he was straight on my chest.

“My heart stopped for four minutes which was really scary. I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for the gaffer and the doctor. They are my heroes for saving my life.”

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Wyke’s defibrillator is the same as Eriksen’s and is there to shock him should he have another cardiac arrest.

The 29-year-old said: “I remember being on holiday and watching it all unfold with Eriksen in the Euros and thinking ‘you’ve got to be so unlucky for that to happen to you as a player’ – and then four months later it was me.

“But Eriksen has given me the inspiration to get back. If he hadn’t made the comeback he has, I don’t think I would have either. I had to see someone else do it for me to be able to push myself to do it too.

“I’ve had a call from Muamba, who was great – he said things will get easier and they have. I also spoke to Daley Blind who had the shock of his defibrillator going off on the pitch, so it was good to speak to them to help ease my mind about things.”

Wyke’s journey has not been without its setbacks – and the striker’s return was put on hold in March when his own defibrillator activated itself in training to the shock of his team-mates.

At that stage, Wyke thought he was going to have to retire for good, but he has switched up his medication several times and is feeling in a much better place.

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Christian Eriksen and Soccer AM’s Tubes share their own stories about what they went through when they had their heart attacks and waking up in a hospital bed. 

He revealed: “Will Keane tried to say something to me, and I looked right through him. I started to feel dizzy, and my defibrillator went off. I went from standing up to being on the floor in five seconds – the pain was unbearable.

“It gave me a complete shock of the full body. It was the worst pain I have ever been in – it was so traumatic.

“It was a shame for my team-mates who had to see it all again. There were a few tears from the lads which means a lot as it shows how much they care.

“It was so frustrating as I had been so close to a comeback. The only positive I can take from the situation is I know the defibrillator works.

“I have wires in my chest now, so if I’m playing and say I get elbowed and the wire hits the defibrillator, it goes off, so I’ve got a magnet that turns it off. I can actually do that myself.”

Wyke has had a lot of time to reflect over the past nine months, before making his comeback much to the joy and relief of his family.

He said: “I couldn’t even tell you how many times I have been to Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital, but they have been unbelievable with me. I have had five or six procedures, had the defibrillator fitted so it’s been a tough time mentally and physically.

Charlie Wyke in action for Wigan

“Rob Cooper from Liverpool Hospital isn’t just my cardiologist; he is like a good friend now too. We have a special bond. I look at him as family, we speak every day. It gives me a level of comfort to know he is keeping an eye on me.

“I wake up every morning and send my heart rhythms to Rob, which is a bit crazy. First thing I do every day is turn Bluetooth on and wait for the readings to upload. I then upload them through the app.

“Getting back on the pitch has made me feel better physically and mentally. It is the toughest battle I have ever been through, and I found an inner strength I didn’t think I had.

“A lot of people have said that I’m mentally the strongest person they know but I don’t look at it like that – I just know I didn’t have any other option.

“My family were all in the crowd to see my comeback last weekend and I think it is the first time my dad has cried. The doctor was there, he was crying too.

“The Wigan fans have been unbelievable with me so I wanted to get back for them too. It was a very emotional moment, and something I will remember for the rest of my life. I want to pay back to the manager, the doctor, and the club.”

What would be Wyke’s message to those who are not trained in CPR?

“Make an effort to get the training – you never know what is around the corner. My episode was completely out of the blue. If the manager hadn’t been trained, and the doctor wasn’t there, then I wouldn’t be here today. I’m very grateful to be alive really, as crazy as it is for me to say.”