Leicester

Leicester City ambassador Alan Birchenall - 'I was dead' at awards

Leicester City Ambassador Alan Birchenall
Image caption The former Leicester City player said every day was now unreal because "the Birch was gone... it changed my life"

Leicester City club ambassador Alan Birchenall has said he "was dead" when he suffered a cardiac arrest at an awards ceremony.

"The Birch", 71, collapsed while making a presentation in January. He was treated by medical staff from the audience using a defibrillator.

The former Foxes player said since that night "every day is unreal because the Birch was gone... it changed my life".

The use of a defibrillator saved his life, his doctor confirmed.

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Image caption Alan Birchenall holds up the Premier League trophy after Leicester City won the title last season

Mr Birchenall helped raise money in 2015 for defibrillators to be used at 20 Leicestershire schools.

In his first BBC interview since his collapse, the Leicester City legend said: "I said 'I don't feel well' and then I just felt my legs going and that was it, I was in the ambulance.

"I'm lucky. I owe my life to a defibrillator and the people at Glenfield Hospital... the difference was that there was a defib for me."

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Image caption Alan Birchenall played for Chelsea from 1967 to 1970

Dr Nicky Hickman, one of the people who treated Mr Birchenall, said: "The team had done a good job.

"These devices [defibrillators] in public places really, really make a difference to people.

"Without it he probably wouldn't have had quite such a good outcome."

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Image caption Alan Birchenall has raised funds for a number of projects in Leicestershire

Mr Birchenall collapsed when making a presentation for the Club of the Year award at the Leicester Mercury Sports Awards on 12 January,

BBC Leicester presenter Martin Ballard, who was at the ceremony, said: "He turned and collapsed at the back of the presentation stage.

"After a couple of minutes the audience realised the severity of the situation and up to 500 people hushed, many standing."


'Mr Leicester City'

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Image caption Alan Birchenall welcomes new signing Ade Akinbiyi to Leicester in 2000

"The Birch" was born in East Ham, London, in 1945, but moved to Nottinghamshire when he was four years old.

He played for youth clubs in the county before he was spotted by Sheffield United. He went on to play for Crystal Palace and Chelsea.

However, the majority of his playing career was a six-year spell with Leicester City.

He made 163 appearances and scored 12 goals for the club.

The attacking midfielder later had spells with Notts County, Blackburn Rovers and Luton Town.

In 2002, Mr Birchenall was awarded an MBE for his charity work and seven years later he was given the Freedom of Leicester.

The 71-year-old has become synonymous with the Foxes in his role as club ambassador.

He is hugely popular with fans, pundits and many people connected with football.


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