"Just try to be honest about how you’re feeling" - Taylor to Eriksen

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19 Jun 2021 | 05:26 AM
authorcricket.com staff

"Just try to be honest about how you’re feeling" - Taylor to Eriksen

The former England batsman reflects on how he rebuilt his life after he was forced to retire at the age of 26 because of a serious heart condition

Former England batsman James Taylor, who was forced to retire at the age of 26 because of a serious heart condition, said he understands how Denmark footballer Christian Eriksen must be feeling right now after the Danish man suffered cardiac arrest during a match against Finland at the Euros.

"It’s going to be an incredibly emotional time for him and he’ll have so many questions. The one thing I’d say from what I’ve learnt is you can’t control what’s going on physically but you can control what’s going on upstairs. It’s one thing battling with your body but don’t battle with yourself mentally and bottle things up," Taylor, who featured in seven Tests and 27 ODIs before retiring in 2016, told Sportsmail.

"I chose to be open with people around me. I shared every feeling I had with my wife, so if I pulled a face she immediately knew what was going on inside me. If I could talk to Christian Eriksen now I’d say just try to be honest about how you’re feeling. And realise how incredibly lucky you are because it could have been very different. Yes, his world is upside down right now but life itself is a great option. And he’s got that.

"I wasn’t watching the match when Christian collapsed but I soon found out about it because my phone went mental. So many people got in touch and that was lovely they thought about me. It brings back a lot of memories but every one of these cases is different. I don’t know exactly what Eriksen has but I imagine it is something similar to me and every time I see something like this I realise how lucky I was because 80 per cent of ARVC cases (a disease of the heart muscle) are only discovered in post-mortems.

"I should have died. The cardiologists had never seen anyone present what I did so I was incredibly lucky. Just as Christian is. And it does put things in perspective. It allows me, weirdly, to enjoy things a bit more."

Eriksen, who plays as an attacking midfielder for Serie A club Inter Milan and the Denmark national team, was discharged from hospital following a successful operation on Friday. Eriksen had a heart-starter device implanted after his collapse in Copenhagen on last Saturday. 

"It’s like half the size of a mobile phone and has two wires screwed into the bottom of my heart. It’s quite brutal when you spell it out. I didn’t want it at first and tried my hardest not to have the operation. But it’s brilliant. It has gone off twice and saved my life once. It just keeps me in check if the s*** hits the fan," he said.

"I would say I live a pretty normal life apart from not being able to exercise like I’d want to. There are those little day to day things. Like every time I cross the road I think twice because I don’t want to move too fast. Every time I jog up the stairs I wonder how I’ll be when I get to the top. Every time I lie on my left side I quickly have to switch to my right because I can feel every heart beat.

"I don’t drink coffee or do anything that will raise my heart-rate. I’m pretty chilled but I do have to think about everything. And having the defibrillator does mean I’ll have to have major heart surgery every seven to 10 years. The more the beeping goes off the quicker I have to have it changed. I’ll have to have that operation continuously for the rest of my life.

"My life has changed dramatically since being a professional cricketer,’ he says. ‘I stopped doing something I loved and it’s all I’d worked for, all I knew. You’re not invincible any more and you’re not a sports star any more. Not in an arrogant way. It’s just that it’s what you’ve worked so hard for, to get to the top of your field. And I’d just got there. Then the carpet was whipped from under my feet."

The 31-year-old now wants measures in place to make sure others have the same medical treatment that saved him and Eriksen. "We need to raise awareness over just how important defibrillators are in society and how important it is to have them readily available. Christian was incredibly fortunate to have such a good medical team there next to him on the pitch. 

"Had that been anybody else playing club football or another sport in any other part of the world, they probably would not have made it. Also, they used a defib on him. That’s a vital piece of technology that should be readily available in all walks of life."

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