A former Albion schoolboy footballer has told how the club helped him battle back from a cardiac arrest.

Matthew Cunnington was a schoolboy at Brighton and Hove Albion when he suffered a cardiac arrest, aged 12.

Afterwards, he faced an uphill battle to return to playing the sport he loves.

Matthew, now 19, said: “A couple of weeks after it happened we had a meeting with the main cardiologist at the hospital.

“The first question I asked was, would I be able to play football again and he said no. I was devastated and thought my dream was over at 13.”

The process of regaining fitness was very difficult for Matthew, as he was only allowed to play for 20 or 30 minutes per match for a whole season.

Brighton and Hove Albion supported Matthew all the way through his recovery and that is something he is very grateful for.

He said: “Brighton gave me every chance possible to make it.

“They could have easily said after it happened that I could not play anymore but they stuck by me and I’m really, really grateful for that.”

Matthew, of St Leonards, is currently studying at the University of Bath, while playing football at a semi-professional standard.

His father, Mark Cunnington, 55, has now written a book about his son, called The Fear. Reading the book reminded Matthew of the difficult times in his life, but he still feels happy that his father has written it.

He said: “I thought that I would be fine and that it was just a book but reading it brought back memories that I had forgotten about. I spoke to one of my dad’s friends and he said that reading the book made him cry.”

His dad Mark said: “I am incredibly proud of him. Matthew is a shining example of how your life isn’t over with a setback like that.

The Fear is available at most major bookshops, on Kindle at Amazon and direct from www.triopublishing.co.uk for £8.99 with free postage and packaging.