Type 1 Diabetes and sport

When my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes five years ago all I could think about was whether he’d be able to play sport when he grows up.


As a footballer, I’m a very active person and lead a very active lifestyle.

As a parent, I have always wanted my children to grow up loving sport. I want them to be active just like me and not just sit on the sofa playing computer games all the time.

I worried that his diagnosis would hold him back. I thought he wouldn’t be able to participate but five years on and my perception of his condition has changed dramatically.

He is so active. He’s a very fit and healthy eight-year-old and with regards to him being able to play sport, I now have no worries.


When Jenson was first diagnosed, we used injections to administer his insulin. However, around 3 years ago we decided to change to an insulin pump. He currently uses the Medtronic 640G with CGM (constant glucose monitoring). We were struggling to control his blood sugar levels with injections and have found using the pump so much better. We have much more control now and it gives him more freedom to eat when he wants. Jenson was becoming conscious of injecting in public and it was hurting him, so it made sense to change.


Jenson’s blood sugar levels running a bit high!

I was sceptical about the pump. I didn’t like the idea of having something attached to him constantly, and thought it would restrict him in his active lifestyle.

How wrong I was.

It hasn’t hindered him what so ever. He just gets on with life. Jenson keeps his pump in a Lycra band around his waist and you wouldn’t even know it was there.

I’m so proud of how he deals with and manages his condition every day.

Jenson loves football (I wonder why?!!) and trains three times a week with various teams and plays on a Saturday for his local side.


When it comes to competitive football, Jenson will take his pump off as so not to cause any damage to it. During this time, we will check his blood sugar levels before, during and after. If he has low blood sugar levels at any point or his levels are coming down then we will give him either some jelly babies or a drink of Lucozade to give him a boost. Exercise lowers blood sugar levels, so it’s important we keep a close eye on him as he’s still just a young boy.

If the weather is ok then he will always be outside in the garden after school playing football with his brother. We don’t take his pump off when this happens and he plays absolutely fine and it never gets in the way.

Jenson has swimming lessons twice a week. Even though his new pump is waterproof we still take it off. It has worked well for us over the last few years so don’t want to change the routine.

He also enjoys golf and has had quite a few lessons. Jenson is left-handed and has a lovely golf swing. It’s certainly better than mine! As the Summer time approaches we will definitely be having a swing soon. Again, his diabetes and insulin pump have no bearing on him being able to play.

Obviously, when playing sport he can’t just do what he wants. His condition means more planning and care than other children his age. However, with the correct management he can play and compete in any sport. He can achieve anything he wants to and he is determined that his diabetes won’t hold him back in life. If anything, he embraces it! To see that my son is not letting Type 1 Diabetes effect his life in a negative way is such a remarkable feeling.

I’m so proud of him.


Highlight of my career

The highlight of my career to date has to be the League 1 Play-off final in 2005, playing for Sheffield Wednesday against Hartlepool.


The Owls eventually ran out 4-2 winners after extra-time to gain promotion to the Championship.


Watching videos of that day still give me goosebumps. It was, in a footballing sense, the best day of my life.


The fans that day were unbelievable.


Forty thousand Wednesdayites made the trip down to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff that day, including a mini bus full of my family. It made the day even more special that they were all there to share what was an incredible day.


I remember vividly the bus journey from our hotel to the stadium. As we approached the ground through the city centre all we could see were thousands of supporters who had lined the streets. It was a sea of blue and white cheering us on and it certainly gave us all motivation and inspiration to perform. It was quite astonishing and unforgettable.


The celebrations after the match were incredible. We stopped off at a service station on the way back to Sheffield and it was manic.

The services were full of Wednesday fans and it was a carnival atmosphere. Everybody was singing and dancing. I bet the people working there had never seen anything like it before.


Once we got back to Sheffield the party carried on, but I hit a bit of a lull. I was mentally drained. It was a really hot day and the game had taken its toll on me. I was shattered, but I more than made up for it by celebrating for the next few days.


It was mind-blowing to play in that football match, and it is a day I will never forget.



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.