Luton Town captain Tom Lockyer has spoken for the first time about his “day of mixed emotions” after collapsing on the pitch during his team's Championship play-off final win.
Lockyer, 28, collapsed in the eighth minute of the victory against Coventry and had to be carried off on a stretcher.
The Wales centre-half underwent a heart procedure last Wednesday and has now been told he is fit to continue his football career.
He told Luton Town's website: "I had an atrial fibrillation, which is basically the top part of my heart was beating four times faster than it should have been.
"There’s not really any reason to say why that happened, but I’ve had the operation to fix it and it shouldn’t happen again."
Lockyer said he has been ordered to have two weeks' rest and was heading off on holiday with partner Taylor.
Despite being unconscious for a short time on the pitch, the six-time player of the year and Championship Team of the Year member can recall exactly what happened before his afternoon was cut short.
“It was crazy," he said.
"All week I’d been visualising walking up those steps to that trophy and to end it in a hospital bed is not quite what I had in mind, but I was immensely proud to lead the lads out at Wembley – more so than I am normally because of the occasion and it was a massive honour for me and my family."
“I’m just really thankful that the lads were able to get the job done and we were able to complete our goal of getting promoted.
"It made those five days in hospital after a lot easier. I think if we had lost, those five days would have been horrendous, but they made it a lot smoother for me.”
Lockyer said he remembered running backwards, and going light-headed before the club physio told him he had to go off the pitch.
“I was like ‘No mate, no mate, I’m fine’, but he was saying ‘No, it’s serious Locks, you’ve collapsed. You’re coming off’.
"Then it dawned on me that I was on the floor and this is actually serious.
"It was then that, because I felt fine as soon as I woke up, I instantly just went ‘Oh no, this is the end of my game’ and had the feeling of letting the boys down. I just got really emotional. I couldn’t stop crying on the floor."
After the initial tears, and being reunited with Taylor and his parents, Lockyer could even find time to celebrate Jordan Clark’s opening goal.
"I was in the medical room at Wembley, under the stadium, and I couldn’t stop crying in there but it was funny, because it was like a communal room and they kept wheeling in drunk fans next to me.
“We were in there and didn’t hear a cheer or anything, then all I heard was someone shout, ‘Tell him we’re 1-0 up, Jordan Clark!’ So then I was over the moon with that, and couldn’t stop celebrating and smiling.
"We got to the hospital for extra-time, and my old man decided for those penalties then to take the photo of the winning penalty and post it out to let everyone know I was all right, so that’s a nice moment we’ve got all together now, that photo."
Lockyer said his mum began crying when she saw his manager Rob Edwards break down in tears after being asked about him on live TV
"I just said to her ‘Yes, he is amazing, he’s been amazing and you can see what a genuine person he is as well.’ He’s not just an unbelievable manager, but you can tell the ethos he has about family first always, and we have created a family.
"Luton Town is a family now. It was amazing to see.”
Lockyer said he was touched by the victory parade and was deeply grateful for all the get well messages from fans.
"I've had my full heart checked and double checked with all the scans and tests they can do on a heart, and they've all come back positive.
"Now I’ve had the all-clear, I just want to draw a line under it, and get back to normal, but having been through this unexplained experience and all the tests, I would recommend to everyone that if you suffer any rapid irregular heartbeat, chest pain, dizziness or shortness of breath, that you seek medical advice and get checked out."
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