Football legends join forces to teach nation how to perform CPR

Football legends join forces with Sky Bet and the British Heart Foundation to launch campaign to inspire the nation to learn lifesaving CPR (Picture: EMM)

An inspiring line-up of footballers impacted by life-threatening heart conditions have joined forces to urge more than a quarter of a million people to learn life-saving CPR.

Luton Town captain Tom Lockyer joined former international stars Graeme Souness, David Ginola and Glenn Hoddle to unveil a ground-breaking new campaign – ‘Every Minute Matters’ – at Wembley Stadium.

Organised by Sky Bet and the British Heart Foundation (BHF), ‘Every Minute Matters’ aims to recruit 270,000 people – the equivalent of three Wembley’s – to learn life-saving CPR over the next 12 months.

Sky Bet has also pledged to donate up to £3 million to support the vital work of Britain’s biggest heart charity, starting with £10,000 for every goal scored during normal and extra time during the Sky Bet Play-Offs – which begin this Friday and end with three showpiece finals at England’s national stadium later this month.

Luton Town captain Tom Lockyer suffered cardiac arrest while playing Bournemouth last year (Picture: EMM)

Souness, Ginola, Hoddle and Lockyer are part of the ‘Re-Starting 11’ – a one-off team including Fabrice Muamba, Derby County defender Megan Tinsley and Wigan Athletic striker Charlie Wyke – who will share their own stories and give Brits the skills to tackle the ultimate medical emergency.

The ‘Re-Starting 11’ also features football fans who have either survived a cardiac arrest or saved someone’s life.

Souness, who was diagnosed with coronary heart disease in his early 30s, said: ‘CPR saves lives – and you only have to look at our Re-Starting 11 to see that. It’s a privilege to join a team of inspiring people, many who are only here today thanks to CPR, as we stand with Sky Bet and the British Heart Foundation to call on the nation to take action.

‘Every day, more than 80 people will suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in the UK – and that’s why we need more people to learn CPR through RevivR.

Former England manager Glenn Hoddle (R) was saved by sound engineer Simon Daniels’ (L) quick thinking when he suffered a cardiac arrest in October 2018 (Picture: EMM)

‘Together we can equip thousands more fans with the knowledge and confidence to perform these lifesaving skills, because in the crucial moments following a cardiac arrest every minute really does matter.’

Lockyer, who collapsed during last year’s Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final and survived a cardiac arrest in December, added: ‘I was lucky that in the moment when my heart stopped, those nearby knew the skills to save my life.

‘Without the prompt actions of the medical staff who gave me CPR and defibrillation, I simply wouldn’t be here today – and I’m forever grateful for that.

‘That’s why I’m joining the Re-Starting 11 as we call for more football fans to learn CPR. If every fan in every club took 15 minutes to learn CPR with RevivR, it could help save thousands of lives.’

David Ginola is amongst those seeking to teach the nation CPR (Picture: EMM)

There are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK each year, equating to at least five every 90 minutes. Each minute that passes without CPR reduces the chance of survival by up to 10 per cent.

And tragically, less than one in ten people survive often because those around them lack the skills or confidence to perform CPR.

To kick-start the campaign to tackle the problem, Sky Bet and BHF will this month harness the platform and drama of the Sky Bet Play-Offs to unite football fans and the wider British public behind one clear goal – saving lives.

Every Minute Matters will urge everyone to take just 15 minutes – the length of the half-time interval – to learn CPR with RevivR, the BHF’s free and easy to use digital tool that can teach anyone how to save a life in 15 minutes.

Who are the footballers in the ‘Re-Starting 11?’

Graeme Souness (Team Manager): The former Liverpool FC player and manager was diagnosed with coronary heart disease after three of his arteries were blocked. Throughout his life, Graeme has undergone several operations and has suffered from a heart attack.

Glenn Hoddle (co-manager): The former Tottenham Hotspur legend and Chelsea and England manager suffered a cardiac arrest in October 2018 shortly after filming in the BT Sports studio. Glenn’s life was saved by sound engineer Simon Daniels who administered CPR and utilised the on-set defibrillator.

1.    Tom Lockyer: The Welsh international footballer who collapsed playing for Luton Town during last year’s Sky Bet EFL Championship play-off final. Lockyer experienced an atrial flutter and underwent a procedure to treat it. After being given the all clear to return to football, he suffered a cardiac arrest during a Premier League match against Bournemouth in December 2023. His life was saved by club medics who rushed to perform CPR and provide early defibrillation. Lockyer was fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator after he was hospitalised for five days.

2.    Fabrice Muamba: The former Arsenal and Bolton Wanderers midfielder, suffered a cardiac arrest in 2012 during a televised FA Cup match. Fabrice’s heart stopped beating for 78-minutes as club doctor Jonathan Tobin and a cardiologist in the crowd, battled to successfully save his life.

3.    David Ginola: The former Newcastle United and Spurs star collapsed after suffering a cardiac arrest in a charity game in the South of France in 2016. David’s heart stopped for eight minutes and his life was saved thanks to the swift actions of his friend and former professional footballer Frederic Mendy who performed CPR until medics arrived with a defibrillator.

4.    Charlie Wyke: In November 2021, the Wigan Athletic striker suffered a cardiac arrest during training and his heart stopped beating for four minutes. Wyke’s life was saved thanks to immediate action by then Wigan boss Leam Richardson who performed CPR until club doctor Jonathan Tobin took over.  He now has an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) to monitor his heart rhythm.

5.    Megan TinsleyDerby County defender, Megan Tinsley was diagnosed with atrial septal defect (ASD) at the age of three – a condition in which there is a hole between the two collecting chambers of the heart – and had surgery two years later to address the issue. Following continued chest pains while playing football, Megan put her career on hold and had an implantable loop recorder (ILR) placed in her chest to monitor her heart rhythm and rate. Megan recently resumed her playing career for Derby County.

6.    Claire Bailey: Doncaster Rovers employee Clare Bailey went to the GP with a suspected chest infection. The GP referred her to Doncaster Royal Infirmary where Clare subsequently had a cardiac arrest. Following two weeks in a coma, Clare underwent an urgent heart transplant in Manchester. Clare made a successful recovery and is now back working at the club she loves.

7.    Adam DoddAdam is a semi-professional footballer who suffered a cardiac arrest at home. His life was saved by his girlfriend Kat who took decisive action and performed CPR until Paramedics arrived. Adam was taken to Blackpool hospital and put into an induced coma for four days. He made a successful recovery and is now fitted with an S-ICD and is back playing football again.

8.    Lukas Jonassen: Amateur footballer Lukas suffered a cardiac arrest while playing six-a-side at North Kesteven Leisure Centre in Lincoln. His life was saved by a member of the opposite team, Tom Dunning, who performed CPR on him. Tom kept Lukas alive for 15 minutes until the paramedics took over and Lukas was taken to Lincoln hospital. Lukas made a full recovery.

9.    Lee Stevenson: Sunderland AFC fan Lee’s life was saved by his fiancée and Newcastle United fan Amy Stevenson after he had a cardiac arrest at home. Amy bravely administered CPR while waiting for paramedics. Lee survived and has made a good recovery. Amy and Lee are now proud parents to 2-year-old Alice and are expecting their second child.

10.  Andrew Barnett: Cardiff City fan Andrew was playing in a dads vs kids game when he suffered a cardiac arrest. His life was saved by leisure centre duty manager Ben Clarke who administered CPR and swimming teacher Sheila Mot who prepped the defibrillator. Andrew was treated for a blocked coronary artery with a stent and has since made a good recovery.

11.  Ellie Morton: Ellie is a Sheffield Wednesday fan and palliative care nurse who saved her Dad’s life at home in 2023 after he suffered a cardiac arrest. Ellie and her Dad, Dennis, who is also a season ticket holder at Sheffield Wednesday, were watching a Wednesday match on TV together when Dennis collapsed. Dennis has since recovered and walked Ellie down the aisle last October.

The simple course requires no medical experience and can be completed with just a mobile phone and a cushion to practise on. After completing the training, 97% of users feel confident enough to give CPR and use a defibrillator.

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive at British Heart Foundation (BHF), said: ‘Millions have watched as players and fans have suffered devastating cardiac arrests in football stadiums – cardiac arrests really can happen to anyone, anywhere and at any time.

‌‘Every Minute Matters will equip thousands of fans with lifesaving CPR skills, giving them the confidence to step in during the ultimate medical emergency. It will also improve access to defibrillators in communities across England, and fund millions of pounds of groundbreaking research into new treatments and cures for heart conditions.

‌‘With the support of legends from the world of football who have been affected by devastating heart conditions, this ambitious partnership will undoubtedly save lives.’

The Every Minute Matters activity in May is just the start of a year-long campaign. Throughout the summer and the 2024/25 season, Sky Bet and the BHF will work together on raising awareness and in tackling specific issues to help in the fight against SCA.

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