‘They couldn’t get a pulse’: Stephen Kenny reveals details of 2019 heart scare

Ireland manager came close to death after U-21 match in Sweden

  Stephen Kenny: “Obviously it was very, very serious. They couldn’t get a pulse and couldn’t get a heartbeat.”

Stephen Kenny: “Obviously it was very, very serious. They couldn’t get a pulse and couldn’t get a heartbeat.”

 

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny needed CPR and a defibrillator to restart his heart in September 2019. Following an under-21 match in Sweden, Kenny collapsed at the airport before emergency attention by Dr Mortimer O’Connor saved his life.

“It was very striking seeing Christian Eriksen, ” Kenny told Off The Ball. “It was very traumatic. Looking at it on the TV, I got the impression he may have died.

“It brought back my own situation which I haven’t spoken about before, which was two years ago, with the Ireland under 21s. We played Sweden - we won 3-1 and it was a great performance, Troy Parrott scored two goals - and the following morning, I wasn’t feeling well on the bus to the airport.

“At the airport I had a not dissimilar incident to Christian Eriksen. It was quite an ordeal. I wasn’t feeling well, and I just collapsed.”

Damien Doyle, the FAI’s head of athletic performance, quickly began CPR while Dr O’Connor readied the defibrillator.

“The paramedics in the airport were on the scene very quickly,” the 49 year old explained. “All of the players had gone through, and some staff, it was just a certain number of staff that had stayed with myself because they knew I wasn’t well.

“The players didn’t see it because they had gone through to get the flight, but there was a big scene at the airport.

“I was subsequently informed it was an electrical issue with my heart, there was a block of electricity that the heart needs. It was traumatic at the time, for everyone.”

Unsurprisingly, the sight of Eriksen collapsing earlier this month at the Euros gave Kenny “flashbacks” as the Dubliner also began to understand the impact it had on his staff.

“Obviously it was very, very serious. They couldn’t get a pulse and couldn’t get a heartbeat. Apparently, I turned blue, so it was a serious situation.

Jim Crawford said to me the following morning, ‘I’m not going to lie to you Stephen. I thought you were dead.’”

Kenny had a pacemaker fitted in Swedish hospital before returning home.

“I reflect and I am very fortunate. At that time my children were 13, 15, 18 and 20. I can’t imagine the things I would have missed. It has been a blessing for me. I would have missed out on so much over the last couple of years, I am really grateful.”

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