After beating Coventry City, Luton Town underwent one of the fairy tale’s greatest journeys, becoming the first team to go from a non-league club to the Premier League. However, the match was also marred by an incident when their defender and captain, Tom Lockyer, collapsed on the pitch. Unfortunately, this is not the first time a player has collapsed on the pitch; several such incidents over the years have been remembered by fans.
While most of these incidents had a happy ending, many times they had catastrophic results, and in some cases even led to the player’s death. These incidents also show how difficult and stressful it is to be at the top of the football pyramid, playing week after week, which takes its toll on the mind and body.
Here are some players who collapsed on the field in the middle of the match.
Tom Lockyer – 2023
Luton Town faced Coventry in the Championship play-off final. It was more than just a game for Luton, who were out of the league until nine years ago. A win would ensure they become the first team to move from the non-league to the Premier League. However, after eight minutes of play, Luton’s captain Tom Lockyer collapsed onto the pitch, stepping back to thwart Coventry’s attack.
Lockyer tried to get up but fell again. The medics quickly called a stretcher and took him to the hospital. He eventually recovered without serious damage to his health. On top of that, Luton played brilliantly without their captain, winning the final on penalties.
Not sure what happened with Tom Lockyer but this looked pretty scary pic.twitter.com/bYjRALETNx
— Noah Robson (@noahrobson_) May 27, 2023
Christian Eriksen – 2021
Denmark kicked off their Euro 2020 campaign against Finland. The match was a draw and looked dull most of the time. However, in the 42nd minute of the match, looking to claim the ball from a throw-in, Eriksen collapsed onto the pitch with no opponent around him. Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest and was immediately given medical treatment on the pitch, with his teammates forming a circle of solidarity around him.
The midfielder was hospitalized and the match resumed, which Finland won 1-0. Eriksen recovered and with an implanted cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) (a device that resets the heart in the event of cardiac arrest) attached to his heart, he began playing and was one of the main reasons Manchester United finished in Champions League places.
Marc-Vivien The Enemy – 2003
After winning the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations, Cameroon qualified for the 2003 Confederations Cup. and Undefeated Lions they made an excellent start to the campaign, beating World Cup champions Brazil and World Cup semi-finalists Turkey to qualify for the semi-finals where they faced Colombia.
In the 72nd minute, Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe collapsed onto the pitch with no player around. He was immediately given immediate CPR for the next 45 minutes, including mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
He was immediately rushed to the stadium’s medical center but died soon after. Cameroon will win the match but lose to France in the final. After his death, the government of Cameroon decorated Vivian Foe with a Commander of the National Order of Valor. His then-club Manchester City also paid tribute to him and retired his shirt number (23) in his respect.
Fabrice Muamba – 2012
In the 2011–12 season, Bolton Wanderers played Tottenham Hotspur in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. And it was in a game where Bolton player Fabrice Muamba collapsed onto the pitch after suffering a cardiac arrest. Muamba’s situation was made worse by the fact that his heart stopped beating. However, with the help of a fan who was a cardiologist, Muamba received multiple defibrillator shocks for 78 minutes (during which he was technically dead) before his heart started beating again.
Mumaba later retired at the age of 24, and after retiring he pursued a career in media, journalism and coaching.
Cheick Tiote – 2017
Cheick Tiote is one of the best players to come out of Ivory Coast. The midfielder played for teams such as Anderlecht, Twente and Newcastle United, winning two titles in Belgium and one title in the Netherlands. In 2015, he won the Africa Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast national football team.
In 2017, Tiote was playing for Beijing Sport University FC, a club that was playing in the Chinese League One Division at the time, when he suffered a cardiac arrest during training. Before he was pronounced dead, attempts were made to resuscitate him. Tiote held a military funeral in Côte d’Ivoire while Beijing Sports University retired his jersey number (24).