The Premier League match between Bournemouth and Luton Town was abandoned after Hatters captain Tom Lockyer collapsed in the centre circle, just months after a similar incident involving him during the Championship play-off final.
Around the hour mark at the Vitality Stadium, the centre-back collapsed onto his knees, then onto his front – with seemingly no contact from an opponent – and was immediately treated by medical staff. Luton boss Rob Edwards also sprinted onto the pitch to support his skipper and usher players away.
Both sets of players left the field and, after several minutes of treatment, the Welsh centre-back was moved on to a stretcher, with a black blanket covering him and was taken down the tunnel as fans chanted his name.
He was then taken to hospital and, after a delay of around 20 minutes when the game was suspended, it was officially abandoned and will be replayed at a later date.
Luton later posted a statement confirming Lockyer was responsive in hospital and then sent a follow-up around 30 minutes later which said he had suffered a cardiac arrest but was now in a stable condition.
“Our medical staff have confirmed that the Hatters captain suffered cardiac arrest on the pitch, but was responsive by the time he was taken off on the stretcher,” read the statement.
“He received further treatment inside the stadium, for which we once again thank the medical teams from both sides. Tom was transferred to hospital, where we can reassure supporters that he is stable and currently undergoing further tests with his family at his bedside.
“We would like to thank everyone for their support, concern and loving messages for Locks.”
The earlier update on social media had confirmed that Lockyer was responsive in hospital and explained why the match was abandoned
“We all hope and pray for our leader and captain Tom Lockyer, who is thankfully responsive and has been taken to hospital,” read the post. “We don’t know the full extent of what happened and what the next steps are at this stage, but we thank Bournemouth and the medical staff on both sides for their immediate response, which was absolutely amazing.
“We are sorry to all supporters present that players from both sides were in no state of mind to continue with the game after seeing their much-loved teammate and friend taken off like that, and staff could not carry on with managing the game in such circumstances having had to deal with the situation.
“We thank everyone for the wonderful applause and singing of Locks’ name inside the stadium at such a difficult time. Now is the time for all of our players, staff and supporters to come together as we always do and give our love and support to Tom and his family. Our thoughts are with him and them all.”
The Premier League released a short statement, saying: “The Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Luton Town FC has been abandoned due to a player medical incident. Our thoughts are with Tom Lockyer and all players involved in today’s match.”
Lockyer had previously collapsed on the pitch during last season’s Championship play-off final against Coventry City. It then emerged that the 29-year-old suffered an atrial fibrillation, a condition that can cause an irregular or abnormally fast heart rate.
He subsequently had surgery to fix the issue and returned to football earlier this season, having been cleared to play and confident with the procedure he underwent.
“I’ve had the operation to fix it and it shouldn’t happen again,” he told the BBC at the time. “There’s not really any reason to say why that happened. I’ve been given the all-clear – it is what it is and I just want to draw a line under it now and move on.”
Luton and Bournemouth were drawing 1-1 at the time of the incident as Elijah Adebayo’s early goal for the Hatters was cancelled out by Dominic Solanke on 58 minutes.
The incident had echoes of Christian Eriksen’s collapse on the pitch while playing for Denmark against Finland during Euro 2020.
The attacking midfielder received extensive and immediate medical attention on the pitch after suffering a cardiac arrest mid-match in Copenhagen and was taken to hospital soon afterwards – before it was revealed post-match that he had effectively died before being resuscitated.
“He was gone. We did cardiac resuscitation, it was a cardiac arrest,” team doctor Morten Boesen said. “How close were we to losing him? I don’t know, but we got him back after one defib, so that’s quite fast.
“[Having top-class medical equipment close by] was completely decisive, I think,” Boesen added. “The time from when it happens to when he receives help is the critical factor, and that time was short.”
After a period of rehabilitation, Eriksen made a full recovery and returned to Premier League football with Brentford, before later joining Manchester United – where he currently plays.