Wigan's Charlie Wyke tells inspiring story of Christian Eriksen-like comeback

  • Kobe Tong
Wyke playing for Wigan.

Charlie Wyke has told the inspiring story of his return to professional football from a cardiac arrest that he suffered in November 2021 in a fascinating interview with Sky Sports this week.

The Wigan Athletic striker collapsed in training last year when his heart stopped beating for four minutes.

Miraculously, however, Latics coach Leam Richardson was on hand to help save Wyke’s life by performing CPR mere weeks after the management staff had received training on perfecting the life-saving response.

The story of a harrowing day

Wyke explained to Sky: “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.”

Heroic actions of Tobin and Richardsonn

Remarkably, Wigan’s club doctor who accompanied Wyke to the hospital on that most harrowing of days was none other than Jonathan Tobin, who had helped to save the life of Fabrice Muamba at White Hart Lane 10 years previously.

Tobin had been the club doctor at Bolton Wanderers on that particular occasion and took over CPR from manager Richardson on the day that Wyke collapsed last year.

The heroic doctor recalled: “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.”

Wigan players show support for Wyke.
PLYMOUTH, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 27: Wigan Athletic players warm up wearing number 9 shirts after Charlie Wyke of Wigan Athletic collapsed during training earlier in the week during the Sky Bet League One match between Plymouth Argyle and Wigan Athletic at Home Park on November 27, 2021 in Plymouth, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

The quick-thinking actions of Tobin and Richardson, as well as all the medical staff involved, on that traumatic day are heroic beyond description.

The road to recovery

Wyke has since been fitted with a defibrillator like the one that Manchester United midfielder Christian Eriksen, who collapsed during Denmark vs Finland at Euro 2020 last summer, has.

The former Sunderland, Bradford City and Carlisle United forward showed Sky the device that had been inserted into his body, tracing with his finger the wire that ran from his left-hand side to his chest.

Wyke has endured a trying nine months since his collapse in which he has been left to wonder on numerous occasions whether or not he would ever play the sport he loves for a living ever again.

Setbacks along the way

One particularly difficult setback took place in March when Wyke’s newly-fitted defibrillator activated itself during a training session, which proved to be a traumatic experience for both himself and his teammates.

“Will Keane tried to say something to me, and I looked right through him. I started to feel dizzy, and my defibrillator went off,” he recalled. “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.”

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An inspiring comeback

And while Wyke duly thought at one point that he would have to hang up his boots permanently, he has seen tweaked his medication numerous times and is now feeling much better.

So much so, in fact, that Wyke was able to make an emotional return to action on August 20 with a 20-minute outing against Birmingham City in which he turned provider for Nathan Broadhead’s winner.

Everyone at GIVEMESPORT wishes Wykes all the very best in his footballing comeback and future health. His story truly is inspiring, and yet another poignant reminder that everybody should take the time out to learn CPR.

Wyke returns for Wigan.
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – AUGUST 20: Charlie Wyke of Wigan Athletic during the Sky Bet Championship match between Birmingham City and Wigan Athletic at St Andrews (stadium) on August 20, 2022 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)
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