'I played Man City on Saturday, by Wednesday I was in hospital' - Fraser Franks

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Franks had flu-like symptoms before the heart problems which prompted his pregnant wife to take him to hospital

Recently retired defender Fraser Franks says he feels "lucky" to be alive after the heart scare that ended his career at Newport County.

Franks had "flu-like" symptoms before the heart problems that prompted his pregnant wife to take him to hospital.

"I'm massively lucky that this infection could have saved my life," the 28-year-old told BBC Wales.

"I'm grateful it got found and nothing too serious happened to me whilst I was on the pitch."

The symptoms arose in the middle of the night after Franks had played for the Exiles against Notts County on 19 February.

"I thought it was flu-like symptoms," said Franks.

"I had a fever, feeling hot, shivering in bed, then I started getting a racing chest, heart palpitations and chest pain."

Cardiac specialists later told Franks he could not continue to play.

"I've got an issue with the valve in my heart and also with the aorta, which is the main artery for the whole body and it runs through the heart," he said.

"I was told to retire immediately because the risks are just too high with what could happen if I over-exert the heart and put it under unnecessary stress and strain."

Fabrice Muamba
Fabrice Muamba was forced to retire from football after suffering a cardiac arrest in 2012

Franks has since received support from Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed and suffered a cardiac arrest while playing for Bolton Wanderers in 2012.

"I know a lot of people have suffered this sort of thing and it has been fatal in cases so I am very lucky and very appreciative that it did get picked up when it did," said Franks.

"Fabrice Muamba, who suffered cardiac arrest on a football pitch, and was at a lot more severe scale than I did, got in touch with me.

"He gave me some good advice and showed me that life does go on after football.

"He'll be there if I need any more advice."

Franks was also grateful to his former Newport County team mates for buying him and his wife a holiday after receiving bad news from doctors.

Franks announced his retirement on 21 March, but after 231 appearances and 11 goals in 10 seasons, he hopes to remain in football.

"It's what I'm passionate about," said Franks.

"When you first hear the news there is a feeling of panic so you worry, but it has been three or four weeks now and I have been able to get my head around it a bit more.

"I am seeing a more positive side now."

From FA Cup to hospital in five days

Franks spoke of his rollercoaster week which saw him begin by playing in the biggest game of his career and end with being admitted to hospital.

After captaining Newport to a 2-1 win against Premier League Leicester City in the FA Cup third round this season, County then beat Middlesbrough to set up a clash with Premier League champions Manchester City.

Despite a 4-1 defeat, Franks and Newport played well against the Premier League champions, and held them to a goalless first half.

But back in League Two action the match against Notts County on 19 February proved to be Franks' final game.

"I played against Manchester City on the Saturday then I played against Notts County on the Tuesday night and by Wednesday I was in hospital," he said.

"A week later they advised me to retire.

"I've spoken to numerous cardiologists and doctors and gathered all the information and this is what I've been told to do by the best in the business so I'd be foolish not to take their advice."

Fraser Franks
Fraser Franks also played for Brentford, AFC Wimbledon, Welling, Luton and Stevenage

Franks, whose wife is expecting a daughter in May, says he is very grateful to his former Newport team-mates and the football community for the support he has received since retiring.

"When I had the original opinion from the doctor I had to wait 10 days before it was confirmed," Franks explained.

"All the Newport County boys came together, chipped in some money, to send me and my wife away for a few days to Spain to help us relax.

"That really helped me take my mind off things. I could not sleep back here - I was constantly on my phone.

"They're a great group and it is such a unique family club, they will always have a place in my heart the way they have looked after me.

"A lot of people have had to retire in worse conditions than me, I've had a good career, the doctors have found this now and hopefully I can carry on a healthy life and move forward."

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