EXCLUSIVE: Sergio Reguilon opens up on Newcastle fan's cardiac arrest
‘I told the ref to stop the game – but the medics were the real heroes’: Tottenham defender Sergio Reguilon opens up on the fear and quick-thinking inside St James’ Park after a Newcastle fan suffered cardiac arrest
- Sergio Reguilon has opened up on the ordeal at St James’ when a fan collapsed
- The identity of the man has been revealed as 80-year-old fan Alan George Smith
- Mr Smith’s family have revealed he is now ‘fully alert’ and ‘walking about’
- Mr Smith was treated by Dr Tom Prichard and other medical staff at the game
Sergio Reguilon is anxious to find out if there have been any medical bulletins filtering south from Tyneside. ‘How is he?’ he wants to know. ‘Still in hospital? I hope he is feeling OK and back at home soon.
‘We want to invite him to a game. Maybe the game against Newcastle at home in April. If he is OK and if he wants to come that would be perfect.’
It would be a joyous sequel to the distressing scenes of the medical emergency which unfolded late in the first half of Tottenham’s win at St James’ Park on Sunday, when Alan George Smith, an 80-year-old Newcastle supporter, collapsed with a cardiac arrest.
‘I don’t know why I looked up into the stands at that moment,’ recalls Reguilon, speaking in his rapid-fire English. ‘Maybe I heard the people shouting “stop, stop” but I looked up there, and I saw one man lying down and another man pumping his chest with the heart massage.
Sergio Reguilon has opened up on the ordeal at St James’ when a supporter was taken ill
‘I looked at the man’s face and I could see it was not good. I thought, “This guy is dying” and I was shaken and nervous. I went quickly to the referee to say, “Please stop the game, the man is dying and we need some medical help, hurry up”.
‘I am only here for one year from Spain and there are many technical words I don’t know, like defibrillator, so I spoke with Eric Dier to tell him the doctors need to bring on a defibrillator.’
Quick-thinking by everyone concerned saved the man’s life. Fans nearby raised the alarm and off-duty medics in the crowd rushed to help, including a junior doctor called Tom Prichard who took over life-saving CPR until St John Ambulance workers and Newcastle’s club doctor were on the scene.
‘These guys are the heroes,’ says Reguilon. ‘It was thanks to the amazing reaction of the fans and people in the crowd and the doctors who were there to see the game and rushed to help in that moment, they saved the man’s life. We have to start teaching these skills in schools so everybody has them.
Reguilon recongised that something was not right and alerted the referee
Newcastle have released the identity of the fan who collapsed during their recent game with Tottenham as Alan George Smith (above), 80, who is now ‘fully alert’ and ‘walking about’
The match was suspended for a short while as Mr Smith was receiving urgent medial attention
‘I don’t know how to do CPR but I think I did the right thing. Eric Dier was incredible and it was the right action to stop the game by the referee. In the dressing room, all I could think about was the man.
‘I didn’t know him, it was different to the situation with Christian Eriksen because we knew him personally, but I was sad for him.
‘They came to tell us he was doing OK and my mind relaxed a bit. My team-mates were saying, “come on Regy, focus on the game, the man is stable, he’s going to be OK”. But I still had the image in my mind, the guy lying down and I thought he was dead. I could not forget. It was one of the worst experiences of my life.’
Mr Smith’s son, Paul, said on Wednesday his father was recovering, that he was ‘fully alert’ and ‘walking about’, and looking forward to watching his beloved Newcastle again in the near future.
Newcastle fan and A&E doctor Tom Pritchard (right) and his friend Matty helped Mr Smith recover by giving him CPR and defibrillator treatment in the East Stand
‘Everyone is OK, that’s the positive thing,’ says Reguilon, who recovered his composure to produce one his best displays of the season as Spurs closed out a 3-2 win and moved up to fifth in the Premier League.
Despite losing at Vitesse Arnhem with what was effectively their second string, Spurs have stabilised with back-to-back wins in the top flight after three defeats and are settling into a better rhythm under Nuno Espirito Santo as they make the short trip to West Ham tomorrow.
‘The gaffer wants his team to be strong and compact with quick transitions,’ says Reguilon.
‘If you look at his Wolves team it was similar. They played with five at the back but it was a competitive team, with great technical quality and a strong defensive line. For me, the only way to play is to win matches. Our fans want to watch beautiful football and not only counter-attacking but football can be many things and we are in a moment where we are building something, and we are doing OK.
‘We are in the top five and we go step by step because it is a long season.’
Left back Reguilon feels he is maturing as a player and enjoying his second Premier League season after overcoming some of the unforeseen challenges of his move to London.
CARDIAC ARREST – WHAT TO DO
A cardiac arrest is when a person’s heart suddenly stops pumping blood around their body.
It causes the brain to be starved of oxygen and the person will collapse suddenly and be unconscious, unresponsive and won’t be breathing or breathing normally – they may make gasping noises.
Without immediate treatment the person will die. If you’re with someone who’s having a cardiac arrest, call 999, start CPR and use a defibrillator if there’s one nearby. Follow the instructions from the 999 operator until the emergency services take over.
Starting immediate CPR is vital as it keeps blood and oxygen circulating to the brain and around the body. A defibrillator will then deliver a controlled electric shock to try and get the heart beating normally again.
For more information go to the British Heart Foundation website.
‘My first season here was tough,’ he says. ‘It was difficult to adapt to the Premier League, to another culture, to everything. Covid made travel difficult, my family, my girlfriend and my friends couldn’t come to London. I need this in my life and there were moments when this was sad. At Christmas, for example.
‘This year, things are finally open. I can go out again to restaurants, try the different food, visit London, smell the city and see Tower Bridge and the London Eye. To feel the stadium again full with the fans is wonderful.
‘My English is completely different. There are lots of Spanish speakers at the club, Eric Dier speaks really good Spanish. But I have to speak with the other English lads because I want to improve.
‘I am happy now. In football, as well, I am growing up and this year is different. You can see on the pitch. I am enjoying London and Premier League football. I have good energy to play and enjoy.’
Reguilon joined Spurs in September 2020, signed by Jose Mourinho from Real Madrid following a successful season on loan at Sevilla, where he won the Europa League — and his sights are set on bringing silverware to White Hart Lane.
‘I want to win a trophy with Spurs,’ says the 24-year-old Spain international. ‘That’s the objective, and to get back into the Champions League or the Europa League.
‘To be in the top four or the top six in the Premier League, but win a trophy. The trophy is a reward for the work and a reward for the fans who deserve it as well as the team, especially for Spurs fans because we all know the club has not won trophies in the last few years.
‘I know they have been close. The Champions League final and second in the Premier League. Last year, the Carabao Cup final. Sometimes we deserved to win but that’s football. I hope, this season, we can win a trophy. Our fans deserve this.’
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