A Huddersfield campaigner has urged more football clubs to get defibrillators after a young player tragically died after collapsing during a game.
Lee Orton, 33, of Ashbrow, spoke out after the death of footballer Daniel Wilkinson who suffered a suspected heart attack in a match at Brighouse on Monday night.
Daniel, 26, was playing for Barnsley-based Shaw Lane Aquaforce in a cup game against Brighouse Town at St Giles Road when he collapsed 60 minutes in.
Accountant Daniel, who had just moved in with his girlfriend, was treated on the pitch with a defibrillator supplied to the club by Mr Orton, who cheated death when he suffered a heart attack on the pitch in 2013.
After his recovery Mr Orton vowed to raise funds for potentially-life-saving defibrillators and has provided at least 20 so far.
Daniel, who had previously played for Hull City FC, was taken to Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax but was pronounced dead.
Dozens of friends and relatives took to social media to express their shock and pay tribute to Daniel. One described him as “the nicest kid you could ever meet.”
Mr Orton, whose campaign Goals 4 Hearts provides the life-saving devices, also spoke of his shock at the news.
“The defibrillator at Brighouse was one of the first we supplied after my heart attack, and staff at the club were given first aid training,” he said.
“It is devastating to hear about Daniel Wilkinson. My sincerest condolences are with his family.”
Mr Orton, who has previously played for Brighouse Town, collapsed from a heart attack while playing with Aimbry in the Huddersfield District League.
His life was saved by a quick-thinking spectator and medics deploying defibrillators.
Mr Orton added: “These devices are so important. Without one Daniel’s chances of survival would have decreased by 15% with each minute.
“Many of the smaller clubs are still without one because they can cost up to £1,000 each.”
A spectator at Monday night’s match told how officials battled to save Daniel’s life.
The woman, who did not want to be named, said: “Someone went to the clubhouse to get chocolate thinking it may have been diabetes but then they quickly realised what had happened. An ambulance was called and they began CPR and used a defibrillator.
“The Town physio and manager plus other trainer kept working on him until the ambulance arrived along with two response cars. His team mates just kept saying: ‘Come on, Dan.’
“They worked on him for about 40 minutes then moved him to the ambulance and sped off to hospital, but I think we all knew then, to be honest.
“We all hoped for good news.”
Daniel lived with his girlfriend in Sheffield, where he worked full-time for an accountancy firm.
He had been signed as a junior to Hull FC in 2010, before playing for Goole AFC and Scarborough Athletic.
Daniel moved to Shaw Lane from Walsall club Rushall Olympic over the summer.
Mr Orton, who now works alongside Huddersfield Town with the Goals 4 Hearts, added: “You don’t know something like this will happen until it does, and when it does it is devastating.”