Wigan Athletic boss lifts lid on 'out-of-body experience'

‘An out-of-body experience, when somebody else is taking over...’
Charlie WykeCharlie Wyke
Charlie Wyke

Wigan Athletic manager Leam Richardson’s recollection of the quite incredible sequence of events that saw him literally save the life of Charlie Wyke after his collapse on the Christopher Park turf, before handing over to the medical professionals to complete the rescue mission.

A fortnight later, Wyke is already home from hospital, having been fitted with an implantable defibrillator to provide protection on his road to recovery.

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Leaving Richardson, his players and staff to reflect on what happened and, horrifically, what might have been – and also the huge slice of fortune that also played its part.

“We were on a course, a respiratory course, three weeks prior, with our club doctor, Jonathan Tobin, and Mark, the paramedic,” revealed Richardson.

“And the thanks really have to start there because, without the training – which no-one thought we’d ever have to use, let alone inside three weeks, on a human being, and a good person.

“I probably did what millions of other people would have done in my position, and thankfully it was the right thing because of the training I’d received.

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“From then, the process was flawless, into the ambulance, then the hospital, to the aftercare Charlie’s received, which has allowed him to go home in time to spend Christmas with his lovely family.

“It’s amazing being a footballer, because only a small percentage of people get the opportunity to be that lucky.

“But from my experience, it’s genuinely even more amazing to be able to go home and give your son a cuddle, and see your family.”

While Richardson is familiar with discussing football matches in the media, saving the life of a fellow human being is obviously new ground.

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“If I’m going to try to explain it, it’s like the old saying about having an out of body experience, when somebody else is taking over,” he said.

“In your subconscious somewhere, you’re just hoping you’ve got the right answers to whatever’s thrown at you.

“Thankfully, as a collective, we did, we managed to bring Charlie round, and keep him stable before the professionals could come in and do their incredible jobs.

“I don’t actually remember too much about it, there’s little snippets that keep coming back, and I’m sure Charlie’s the same.”

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And while this was all new for Richardson, the presence of Dr Tobin – who saved the life of Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba almost a decade ago – shows it was no fluke.

“He doesn’t do much else around the place to be fair, so it’s a good job he’s good at that!” smiled Richardson.

“But seriously, what a guy, what a man, to be here at the club, to be working alongside.

"He’ll flippantly tell you that’s his job, that’s what he gets paid for.

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"But to be in that situation, to see somebody work like he did, under so much pressure...was amazing.

“And I must echo Charlie’s words...it must be imperative that more people are aware of what needs to be done in situations like this.

"I’ll certainly be driving things forward to try to educate as many people as we can, because there’s thousands of people who come to watch games and it could happen anywhere to anyone.”

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