Updated on 09/01/2023 13:18
- Daley Blind, who moved from Ajax Amsterdam to FC Bayern Munich, has been wearing a pacemaker for three years.
- In August 2020, the defibrillator kicked in and forced him to his knees.
- The defender is not the first football professional to be on the pitch with a pacemaker.
The subject has come. When Daley Blind was introduced as a new signing at FC Bayern Munich’s winter training camp in Doha, one of the first questions from reporters was about Blind’s pacemaker. How does he live with it? Does the defibrillator have an impact on his professional career?
The 32-year-old defender is used to being asked about it over and over again. As a result, he responded regularly. “It’s been a few years now. I’ve shown that I can play at the highest level – Champions League, World Cup. It’s never been a problem,” the Dutchman clarified.
“I feel good about my body. Everything happens in close consultation with the medical service. In normal life, of course, you look at it because I see it every day and I have to live with it. But I feel fit .”
Heart problems discovered during a Champions League match
Blind’s heart problems came to light in December 2019 when he played for Ajax Amsterdam in a Champions League game against Valencia CF. During the match, he complained of dizziness and also grabbed his chest, but could not be substituted.
A later examination revealed cardiomyopathy (diseases of the heart muscle), so the doctors fitted him with a pacemaker. Such a defibrillator sends electrical impulses to regulate the heartbeat and prevent possible cardiac arrest.
He returned to the pitch in mid-February 2020, just over two months after the incident. However, a shocking moment came in August 2020 when he fell to the ground in the 79th minute of a friendly against Bundesliga side Hertha BSC and clutched his chest.
The reason: the defibrillator had sent a pulse that Blind felt immediately. His coach at the time, Erik ten Hag, said afterwards: “The pacemaker went off and he was fine right away.” Since then, there have been no further incidents. FC Bayern’s medical examination did not reveal any abnormalities either, so nothing stood in the way of the commitment.
Christian Eriksen & Co: More football professionals with pacemakers
Blind is not the only professional footballer to be on the pitch with a so-called defibrillator. The best-known example is that of Danish footballer Christian Eriksen, who collapsed without any outside influence and went into cardiac arrest during the 2021 European Championship preliminary round match against Finland. A pacemaker was fitted to him a few days later. He is now under contract with traditional English club Manchester United.
Former Belgian footballer Anthony Van Loo also played with a built-in defibrillator after being diagnosed with a heart defect. The pacemaker twice saved his life after he collapsed on the pitch. After the second incident, he ended his career in November 2018, but had played football with a defibrillator for around ten years.
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Engelbrecht on the defibrillator: “As if you were burning inside”
A German example is former professional footballer Daniel Engelbrecht. In July 2013, the then Stuttgarter Kickers player collapsed on the pitch. He was diagnosed with inflammation of the heart muscle and chronic cardiac arrhythmias, which led to several operations and the installation of a pacemaker.
The former striker made his comeback and played 22 games in the 3rd division and 27 games in the regional championship before ending his active career in October 2017 due to new heart problems.
In the meantime, the defibrillator had also saved his life. In an interview with “DFB.de” he then spoke about the “worst experience of my life. You have to imagine: as far as I know, a socket has about 180 or 200 volts. A defibrillator has more than 800. It feels like you are going to be burned inside. My arm was paralyzed. I still had pain all over my body more than a week later.
It is to be hoped that Blind will be spared such a drastic experience.
- rp-online.de: These athletes are active with a defibrillator
- dfb.de: Engelbrecht: “There will always be a residual risk”
- fcbayern.com: Daley Blind at press conference: ‘I want to help the team’
FC Bayern resumed training after the World Cup in Qatar and the ensuing break and are aiming for the eleventh championship in a row. In any case, fans of the record champions who watched training on Thursday are optimistic.
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