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27th Nov 2018

Northampton Town’s Leon Barnett forced to retire with heart problem

Northampton will honour the rest of his contract and provide him with coaching opportunities

Simon Lloyd

“My heart rate was going just under 300 beats per minute, which is unbelievable”

Northampton Town’s  Leon Barnett has been forced to retire due to a heart condition.

The 32-year-old defender, who has also played for West Bromwich Albion, Norwich City and Wigan Athletic during his career, has been told by specialists it would be “unsafe” for him to continue playing football.

Barnett had complained of tiredness during a Carabao Cup game in August and a device was fitted in his chest to monitor his heart. After experiencing similar problems during the goalless draw with Bury in early October, data from the device showed his heart rate had almost reached 300 beats per minute – five beats per second.

“It’s a bit of a shock, but it could’ve been a lot worse,” Barnett told BBC Radio Northampton.

“They told me if that was a normal person in a regular job they probably would’ve collapsed and fainted.

“They downloaded the data and found out that my heart rate was going just under 300 beats per minute, which is unbelievable.

“They said because you play football and you’re quite fit you managed to stay on your feet, so it’s very fortunate that they’ve found it and handled it quite well.”

Barnett has played in all four of England’s top four divisions over the course of his career, playing over 350 games. His current contract runs until the end of the current season and Northampton have already made clear that they will honour it, as well as providing him with coaching opportunities at the club.

“I’m obviously thankful. I wasn’t even thinking about the contract to be fair, obviously it’s a massive thing for them to still give me what I signed up for,” Barnett said.

“They’ve been there the whole way through. I’m very thankful for everything they’ve done, so I need to repay them.”