By Rachael Grealish
Barrow AFC midfielder, Lewis Hardcastle, has announced his retirement from football at only 22-years-old, due to a heart condition.
After signing to Barrow in February 2019 and helping the club achieve promotion into the Football League as champions of the National League, Hardcaslte took to social media yesterday, Wednesday March 24, to announce his decision.
In the emotional post he confirmed he has the genetic heart condition called Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC) and has since been told he would need an ICD implanted.
He said: “As some of you may know already, I have been diagnosed with a genetic heart condition called Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC) which has been brought on early due to a high level of exercise,”
“For a while I was feeling faint at training and this also happened while driving. I went for many investigations and had a say at a specialist heart hospital in Liverpool for a few days on a heart monitor.
“I was started on medications to regulate my heart, however, sadly this was not enough as my heart rate was reaching dangerous levels.
“My doctor broke the news no footballer or young athlete should ever hear, he told me my case was so severe that I needed an ICD implanted into my heart to save my life.
“He advised that it would be unsafe to play football again due to the risk of me having a cardiac arrest.
“My life is worth than football and I could not put my family through the worry of watching me knowing that something could happen.”
The former Blackburn Rovers player continued saying it had always been his dream to be a professional footballer and wanred others to be aware of the symptoms of condition.
“From a young age I wanted to be a professional footballer and for five years I achieved that,” he continued, “Sadly, there was nothing I could have done to avoid the progression of my condition, I just feel that I have been unlucky.
“However, on the brighter side I have been lucky to develop symptoms as 80 per cent of people with this condition are only diagnosed when it is too late.
“I would like to thank everyone that has supported me to this point, I’ve met some incredible people along the way that I cannot thank enough.”
He said: “I do want to stay involved in the game because football is my passion, however I’m not sure what the future holds for me just yet.
Lewis finished his post saying he hopes to still be involved with the game and stressed the importance of his health and life.
“If I could get one message across it would be to look out for symptoms and get your heart checked as regular as possible as you do not know what is around the corner and before you know it your career could be over like mine.
“I love football more than anything but I’m afraid my life is worth a lot more than that. All good things come to an end eventually, I just didn’t think mine would be so soon.”
Barrow AFC released a statement committing to continue the club’s support of the 22-year-old explaining he became ill during the team’s match against Salford City in February.
The statement read: “Barrow AFC is saddened to announce the retirement from professional football of Lewis Hardcastle.
“After he became ill during our game at Salford City last month, investigations uncovered an issue with his heart.
“Following the diagnosis of his condition, Lewis underwent a procedure to treat it. However, after further consultations with cardiologists, he has received medical advice which has, devastatingly, left him unable to continue his career.
“Lewis, 22, joined the Club in 2019 following an impressive loan spell from Blackburn Rovers and has made 69 appearances for The Bluebirds, including many as captain.
“He was instrumental in our promotion back to the Football League last season and will go down in Club history as one of the 2019/20 National League title-winning side.
“The Club is doing everything it can to support Lewis and his family at this very difficult time and further announcements will be made in the coming weeks.”
For more information on Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy, including signs and symptoms, click here.