Lockyer 'at peace' with retirement prospect

Tom Lockyer applauds fans on his return to Bournemouth's Vitality Stadium
Tom Lockyer has not played since his cardiac arrest in December 2023 [Getty Images]

Tom Lockyer says he is “at peace” with the prospect of not playing football again, but insists he has not ruled out a return to the pitch.

The 29-year-old Wales defender collapsed after a cardiac arrest playing for Luton Town during a Premier League match against Bournemouth in December 2023.

Resuscitated by medics, he has said he was "technically dead" for two minutes and 40 seconds.

In March 2024 Lockyer became a father for the first time and now says he has re-assessed his priorities when looking to the future.

“I've made no secret saying I would love to return to football, but ultimately it would have to come down to someone who's a cardiologist or a specialist who has done full research into what has gone on and if it could happen again, because we've got a little girl now and she takes priority,” Lockyer told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast.

“I would love to play football again, of course I would, it’s my life but if it’s the case that I can't, then I’m at peace with that as well.

“I played for my country, I’ve played in every league and scored in every league from non-league to the Premier League so it’s not the end of the world.

"At the end of the day, I've got my health and that's the most important thing”.

Looking to the future

Seven months before December's cardiac arrest, Lockyer had collapsed during the Championship play-off final at Wembley against Coventry.

He has now been fitted with an in-built defibrillator and even if he is not able to return to playing, he is keen to stay working in football.

“When it first happened, the thing that was keeping me going was that I was going to be the one to come back and score the winner to keep Luton in the Premier League. That was my goal and pretty quickly that got squished by the physios and the doctor, they said ‘are you silly?’," Lockyer added.

“I'm taking my time of things, it could take a lot longer than we thought, but we can’t rush these things and if I'm going to come back, it has to be right.

“I was in limbo for a bit as well. I was not playing football and not doing anything else, so I said to my agent, ‘what's the best thing to do here?’.

“So I'm getting my coaching badges done. I’ve done a bit of punditry work as well, which I really like, so the options are there for me.

“Obviously I'm not looking to do any of them full-time at the minute. I am going to try and focus on getting back on the pitch, but should that not be the case, then I'm sure something else will have my name on it.”

Lockyer is currently working with the British Heart Foundation as part of a campaign to try and get at least 270,000 people to learn CPR, an emergency procedure to assist someone who has suffered cardiac arrest.

“It literally is a life saver and I'm living proof of that. I know how important CPR is,” said Lockyer.

“It’s why I'm trying to preach as much as possible and that's why I'll keep banging the drum for CPR. I think more people need to learn it.

“People keep putting it off for some reason, I have no idea why. All it takes is 15 minutes to learn it.

"You can log online on your phone to the British Heart Foundation website which will show you and give you the tools you need to save someone's life.

“Ultimately, we hope you never have to use it. But should you do have to use it, then at least you know what you're doing.”