Melting pores and skin, hidden scars and terrifying seizures. In an astonishing interview JAY BOTHROYD reveals he performed for 23 years with a secret well being battle – and holds a unprecedented document TERMAN WEBSITE


The scars on Jay Bothroyd’s physique inform a narrative. Many tales the truth is, of searing ache and melting pores and skin, maybe even one among police brutality. Among the scars you’ll be able to see and really feel, just like the thickened ridges on his legs and arms, or the crack in his cranium.

Then there may be the scar you’ll be able to’t see, the one that’s accountable – partly – for lots of the others. This scar may even kill him. It is virtually a miracle it hasn’t already. ‘I am blessed,’ he says. I agree.

Bothroyd is the one footballer ever to play for England, and even within the Premier League, whereas dwelling with epilepsy.

‘It reveals you’ll be able to obtain something even if in case you have epilepsy,’ he says, defiant and proud. However nobody else has accomplished what you’ve got, I counter. That reveals how onerous it’s. It is an unimaginable achievement.

‘Oh yeah… I hadn’t considered it like that.’

The many scars on Jay Bothroyd's body tell a story, but one that can't be seen could kill him

The various scars on Jay Bothroyd’s physique inform a narrative, however one that may’t be seen may kill him

Bothroyd is the only footballer ever to play for England while living with an epilepsy diagnosis

Bothroyd is the one footballer ever to play for England whereas dwelling with an epilepsy analysis

During his 23-year career, he was hit with seizures that would take two days to recover from

Throughout his 23-year profession, he was hit with seizures that may take two days to get well from

The scar that you could’t see is on Bothroyd’s mind. I’ve one too. It causes him to lose consciousness with little warning. His physique will convulse violently, his muscular tissues will harden into granite, his jaw will snap tight and his gnashing enamel will lacerate his personal tongue. After his seizures are over, his muscular tissues will ache and so will his mind, his mouth will sting however style nothing. It can take two days’ relaxation to get well.

Rhys Thomas, Advisor Neurologist, Newcastle Royal Infirmary 

Machismo and competitors on the high finish of sport makes it notably difficult to confess your weaknesses, and this contains dwelling with epilepsy. 

I actually hope that Jay’s trustworthy story will encourage the kids and younger folks being identified with epilepsy who might imagine that they need to compromise on their ambitions. 

Seizures do nonetheless create boundaries, and Jay’s story reveals the significance of solely permitting these folks with well-controlled epilepsy to drive, for instance. 

However he has been capable of journey and stay, play overseas; he has epilepsy, however epilepsy doesn’t have him.

He has discovered the onerous manner about what triggers his seizures and find out how to stay nicely, but in addition faces taking tablets for the remainder of his life. 

Seizures may be traumatising to observe for family and friends members, and his burn following a seizure speaks to the dangers that every one seizures can convey. 

We struggle onerous to scale back the harms from seizures, typically by attempting to get folks seizure free, as a result of sadly folks with epilepsy are liable to dying following from a seizure, one thing we name sudden sudden dying in epilepsy, or SUDEP.

A life free from epilepsy is feasible, however solely by means of adequately funding epilepsy analysis. 

The launch of the Epilepsy Analysis Institute in 2023 gives us with the best risk to ship on this ambition.

This occurred to Bothroyd all through his 23-year taking part in profession, when video games got here each few days, but he managed to play for his nation and on the earth’s best leagues.


Sinking again into his chair at his north London golf membership, Bothroyd is an image of happiness. He is strikingly tall – 6ft 3in – lean and athletic, at 41 nonetheless trying the skilled sportsman regardless of retiring three years in the past. He now hosts a podcast, is a Sky Sports activities pundit – and performs golf.

The one blemish within the sky at this time is that his six-year-old son, Zar, is not getting recognition for ‘successful’ at college sports activities. ‘Everybody will get a medal,’ Bothroyd laments. ‘That is not proper. It’s essential construct a aggressive mindset.’ That ruthless, obsessive must win explains just a few issues.

It was within the 12 months 2000, aged 18, that the difficulty began. After throwing his equipment on the nice coach Don Howe in a rage after being substituted in a youth cup remaining, Bothroyd was exiled by Arsenal, his boyhood membership, to Coventry.

Then there was the scar. Bothroyd doesn’t query why it’s there and the medical doctors have no idea: it simply is, and it first made itself identified whereas he was at a team-mate’s home; one minute he was taking part in video video games, the subsequent he was convulsing on the ground.

‘Once I received advised that I had epilepsy,’ Bothroyd recollects, ‘the very first thing I mentioned was, ‘Can it kill me?’ The physician mentioned, ’99 occasions out of 100, no.’ Proper, tremendous. I put it to the again of my thoughts and did some foolish issues. I did not take remedy – not like lacking a day’s tablets, I am speaking weeks.’

After my very own first tonic-clonic seizure, on a regular basis sensations sparked dreadful reminiscences of fierce, electrical agony ripping by means of my physique. This solely subsided as soon as my new remedy had earned my belief. Every year within the UK, round 1,000 folks die from causes associated to epilepsy. So Bothroyd’s obvious insouciance feels incomprehensible.

The big, brown lesions on his higher left arm and his decrease proper leg are proof of how harmful his angle was. He was a Cardiff participant when these scars had been born, below scorching Portuguese skies.

‘We went out and had just a few beers. Subsequent day it was actually sizzling, however I skilled nicely and felt tremendous, then was strolling again to the lodge and blacked out on high of a automobile, having a seizure. It was a black automobile that had been out within the warmth all day. My arm singed, and it was fortunate my face did not. I wakened in hospital, I did not know what had occurred.

‘It was f***ing s*** for months, therapeutic – deep, layers of pores and skin, third-degree burns. It was dangerous, particularly while you’re altering your dressing – you’ll be able to see the wound is red-raw, however you are peeling it again. I ought to have had a pores and skin graft. It was so, so painful – and I continued taking part in! I had bandages throughout my arm and leg. It is painful while you’re barging somebody with no pores and skin.’

There isn’t any hiding your epilepsy when you’ve got a seizure in entrance of your team-mates. However that was not the case at each one among Bothroyd’s 12 golf equipment. Merely a handful ever knew.

‘I want I would have spoken about epilepsy earlier however I did not as a result of I felt that they may give me a short-term contract or pay-as-you-play,’ he admits. ‘I by no means denied it, I simply did not discuss it. I needed to earn a dwelling. I wished safety for myself and my household. There’s in all probability extra footballers on the market which have the identical situation who will not say something.’

He admits he should have been more open about his epilepsy issues during his playing days

He admits he ought to have been extra open about his epilepsy points throughout his taking part in days

He was a Cardiff City player when he suffered some of his worst scars in a trip to Portugal

He was a Cardiff Metropolis participant when he suffered a few of his worst scars in a visit to Portugal

Only a handful of Bothroyd's team-mates ever knew about his epilepsy diagnosis while playing

Solely a handful of Bothroyd’s team-mates ever knew about his epilepsy analysis whereas taking part in

Roughly 630,000 folks within the UK have epilepsy, and round three-quarters of youngsters will both outgrow it or management it with anti-seizure remedy.

However Bothroyd reveals the cruel fact when he says: ‘Epilepsy affected my efficiency. There have been a great deal of occasions I had dangerous video games due to it, once I wasn’t absolutely centered or I had at the back of my thoughts a fear like, ‘s***, I have not taken my tablets’.

‘I as soon as had a seizure and performed two days later – as a result of I mentioned I wished to. They mentioned to me, ‘do you assume you are all proper to play?’, and I mentioned, ‘yeah’. They did not make me play, however they did not say ‘you should not play’. I scored in that sport!

‘It is about outcomes. Again then I could not say, ‘sorry I can not are available, I’ve had a seizure’ as a result of I feel folks would have checked out it like an indication of weak spot.’

This secrecy explains one other of Bothroyd’s scars – though this one, he alleges, got here courtesy of a police officer.

‘I blacked out and drove into the entrance of a home in Elstree. The police got here and flashed a lightweight in my eye. They might see my pupils had been large, in order that they’re considering, ‘this man’s on medication’, and so they threw me in a jail cell. I stumbled ahead and – bang! – hit my head in opposition to the wall. I bear in mind sitting there slumped, then waking up like that. I had a gray jacket on and blood was coming down that.

‘Who sleeps like that, upright with their head slumped ahead? I wasn’t mendacity down. I wakened and I used to be coated in all this blood, and I may really feel the minimize with my finger. They breathalysed me and examined to see if I used to be on medication or DUI, and I wasn’t in order that they needed to let me go. I’ve nonetheless received an enormous scar on my head.’

Bothroyd was 23, taking part in for Charlton. So why did he not simply inform the police that he had crashed due to a seizure?

‘As a result of I assumed that if I say it then I will not be capable to play on the weekend.’

However you’ll be able to’t play if you happen to’re in a jail cell!

‘It was simply jail, I knew I used to be popping out the subsequent day.’

By the very best requirements set by contemporaries equivalent to Rooney, Owen and Gerrard, Bothroyd’s profession was ‘not stellar’ – his phrases. His one England cap got here as an enormous shock when Fabio Capello known as him up in opposition to France in 2010, despite the fact that he was then a Championship participant.

But he additionally loved success overseas, particularly in Japan the place, he likes to remind folks, he scored extra objectives than Gary Lineker. However Bothroyd had a seizure there whereas taking part in soccer for the primary time in 2017, collapsing throughout coaching, and his profession ended after the invention of a coronary heart situation which required emergency surgical procedure. One other scar.

Finally it was guilt that proved insufferable.

First, he had a seizure in entrance of his then 18-year-old son, Mace, in a Japanese taxi. ‘He was actually scared, crying and stuff.’ Then he had one other seizure – however this time he remained awake by means of 24 hours of vacant, incoherent, pseudo-consciousness – an absence seizure. Bothroyd, as normal, was not scared, however he was scarred by his spouse Stella’s response: frightened, confused, helpless.

‘I do not care about my emotions,’ he says with stunning pressure, his feelings now effervescent over. ‘I care about their emotions. I am upset with myself for having a seizure as a result of I’ve upset my spouse and youngsters.’

It is the one ache he feels acutely: their ache. Lastly I perceive him. I bear in mind the helplessness on my spouse’s face as she discovered me in a hospital mattress after one seizure. I do know the silent worry that epilepsy may sooner or later depart my kids with no father.

Bothroyd admitted his career was 'not stellar' when compared to the other England stars then

Bothroyd admitted his profession was ‘not stellar’ when in comparison with the opposite England stars then

In April, Bothroyd will run a football camp for all children, including those with epilepsy

In April, Bothroyd will run a soccer camp for all kids, together with these with epilepsy

‘That is the one purpose I’ve began being extra accountable,’ Bothroyd insists. He’s now fastidious about taking his twice-daily remedy and making certain he rests if his seizure triggers are being pressed: exhaustion, poor sleep, consuming a bit an excessive amount of. His seizures are managed.

In April, Bothroyd and the charity Younger Epilepsy will host a soccer camp at Trent Park in north London that’s open to all kids, together with these with epilepsy who is perhaps excluded from comparable occasions. He hopes that talking frankly about his life – the nice, the dangerous and even the downright silly – will educate and encourage them.

‘Worry will forestall an individual from doing virtually something,’ he says. ‘We will not change the previous or the situation we have now however we are able to at all times be constructive for our future and nonetheless obtain all of our goals.’

Tickets are on sale for the Jay Bothroyd Premier Soccer Expertise, a day of teaching for youngsters aged 7-11 on 11 April. Proceeds go to Younger Epilepsy.

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