German striker returns to football after four heart surgeries, plays with defibrillator | inside World Soccer

German striker returns to football after four heart surgeries, plays with defibrillator

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Daniel Engelbrecht collapsed and almost died on the pitch just over a year ago, but he's now back in action thanks to a defibrilator inserted into his chest.

The Stuttgarter Kickers striker collapsed on the pitch during a league match against Erfurt in July 2013, and had to be given emergency resuscitation.

Subsequent examinations showed he was suffering from an inflamed heart muscle and an abnormal heart rhythm.

He needed four operations and the fitting of a defibrillator, to regulate his heart beat, last December.

The defibrillator, which is inserted just under the skin of the chest, monitors heart rhythms and can administer restorative electric shocks if anything goes wrong.

And an emotional Engelbrecht made his return off the bench on Saturday in the 76th-minute of a 1-0 regional cup defeat against FV Ravensburg.

"Before the match, the fear was back, of course. I don't think I'll ever be able to get rid of it," Engelbrecht told Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

"But being able to be on the pitch in another professional match is an indescribable feeling. It was a really big step for me.

"I am lucky to be still alive. Others in a similar situation have died. And after the diagnosis no one really believed that I'd ever be able to make a comeback. That makes it ever nicer that I'm able to say that I'm back."

Most of the doctors had advised Engelbrecht against returning to the sport, but listening to them was never a serious option for him.

The 24-year-old added: "I would have never forgiven myself if I hadn't tried. I've set myself this goal and given everything to get there.

"The last year was the worst in my life. I wasn't allowed to do anything, no sport, no strain - certainly no stress. I had to live the life of an 80-year-old.

"Because of the drugs I was constantly tired, yet I couldn't sleep properly at night.

"There were phases when I had to take so many tablets that I suffered from hallucinations.

"When I woke up at night, I saw people walking through my room or sitting down beside my bed. It got so bad that I could no longer sleep on my own."

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