The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: - By Joshua Richards

TWELVE months on from hav­ing his world turned up­side down when he learned he needed to have im­me­di­ate heart surgery, goal­keeper Joe Anyon made his first start for Scun­thorpe in mid­week.

Aged 28, Anyon can scarcely be­lieve it took un­til this stage of his ca­reer to dis­cover he had Wolff-Parkin­son-White syn­drome – an ir­reg­u­lar heart­beat that could have caused a car­diac ar­rest – and wants elec­tro­car­dio­grams (ECGs) to be­come com­pul­sory for foot­ballers across the board.

There has been a grow­ing num­ber of foot­ballers to suf­fer heart at­tacks in re­cent years and the same could have hap­pened to Anyon had his con­di­tion not been dis­cov­ered when he had a med­i­cal ahead of a po­ten­tial move to Cardiff City, af­ter be­ing re­leased by Shrews­bury at the end of the 2013-14 sea­son.


He was im­me­di­ately ad­vised to go un­der the knife and had three oper­a­tions, putting him out of the game com­pletely for eight months. He joined Scun­thorpe in late Jan­uary, but didn’t fea­ture for them last term.

Although Anyon has now re­turned to full health, he has called for big changes to pro­ce­dures.

“I think it should be com­pul­sory for all play­ers to have ECGs,” he said. “Play­ers will think they are fine, but they might have a slight mur­mur or per­haps some­thing even big­ger. I think as soon as you go into full­time football you should be hav­ing a scan, as a youth trainee.

“If you have a prob­lem it’s not some­thing you go on to de­velop in your 20s, it’s likely to be hered­i­tary, or some­thing you are born with. So if you have a scan when you are young, you can nip it in the bud and get on with your ca­reer.

“I had an ECG when I was a school­boy at Black­burn and some­thing showed up then, but they told me I could con­tinue to play and that there wouldn’t be any prob­lems as long as I re­mained ac­tive and lived a healthy lifestyle. It was the right ad­vice at the time.

“At Cardiff they told me if you got a sud­den rush of adren­a­line you could have a heart at­tack and that I needed surgery im­me­di­ately. And I ended up hav­ing three oper­a­tions af­ter one went wrong.

“It’s some­thing clubs are more con­scious of now af­ter what hap­pened to Marc-Vivien Foe and Fabrice Muamba, for ex­am­ple, but there is more that can be done.”

Anyon made his Scun­thorpe de­but last week­end, com­ing off the bench af­ter No.1 Luke Daniels was sent off 71 min­utes into the 2-1 de­feat at Bur­ton Al­bion.

Hard work

With Daniels sus­pended, Anyon started Tues­day night’s Cap­i­tal One Cup tie with Barns­ley, which the Iron lost via a penalty shoot-out.

Hav­ing had a taste of first-team ac­tion af­ter his year from hell, Anyon is not keen to re­lin­quish the gloves.

“My tar­get is to stay in the team. Ev­ery player wants to play at the high­est level, but for now I’ve just got to be grounded and work hard” he added. “I’m lucky they di­ag­nosed my con­di­tion and I proved a lot to my­self to come back and win a con­tract.

“I could have walked away from the game af­ter three oper­a­tions.You start to think of your fam­ily and friends and that there’s more to life than football. I did have a few dis­cus­sions with peo­ple close to me about whether I should give up, but I’m glad I came to the right de­ci­sion. I’ve got a sec­ond chance.”

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