Family before football

Saturday 3rd March 2012

A day I will never forget.

This was the day my eldest son, Jenson was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

Shocked, frightened, numb, hurt, worried, gutted and shaken. I had so many different feelings and I didn’t really know what his diagnosis meant.

Could he lead a normal life?

Could he grow up playing football?

I had no idea about the condition, and never picked up on the symptoms which to this day still feel guilty about.

The burning question in my head though was why? Why my little boy? What has he done to deserve this? I was heartbroken over those first few days while he was in hospital and tried to keep a brave face in front of him but away from his bed I couldn’t keep the tears in and  I’ve never cried so much in my life.

I remember the day like it was yesterday.

At the time I was playing for Coventry City Football Club and was sidelined with a knee injury.


The team were playing away at Leicester City and I met the squad before the game at a hotel where they were having a pre-match meal. I’d gone to see the physio to check my knee was okay, and then the plan was to go to the stadium to watch the game with a friend. However, as I got in the car, en-route to the ground, I received the phone call that would change everything and our lives would never be the same again.

It was my girlfriend informing me Jenson was on his way to hospital and he’d been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

We had moved down to the Midlands from Yorkshire when I signed for Coventry, but they were back up north that weekend visiting family, so my friend immediately drove me straight back up north to the hospital where Jenson was admitted.

My football career, my knee injury and all other things going on in my life at that point took a back seat. I didn’t care about anything else other than looking after Jenson and caring for my family. Luckily, the football club were brilliant with me and totally understood the situation. I ended up having two weeks away from the club. The manager, Andy Thorn, was in contact with me fairly often to see how we were all doing and I can’t thank him enough for been so supportive in what was an incredibly difficult time.

Looking back, maybe it was a blessing that I was injured at the time, but saying that, if I’d have been fit then I would have done exactly the same thing anyway.

If my family need me then I’ll be there for them regardless. Family comes first and overpowers everything else in life.

Four and a half years later and I couldn’t be prouder of my son.

It’s a constant roller coaster managing his condition everyday, and we’ve had some hard times juggling his care with my football career.  There have been so many obstacles that we’ve had to contend with.





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