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McEveley relives near-death experience
DEFENDER Jay McEveley has relived his near-death experience while playing under Nigel Clough as he prepares to face the man who subsequently christened him ‘Lazarus’.
After going into hospital for a routine operation on a broken cheekbone in October 2009, McEveley’s heart mysteriously stopped for two-and-a-half minutes on the operating table and he only found out what happened when he woke up in intensive care.
Despite the major scare the defender was back on the pitch three weeks later, and despite the severity of the situation, Lazarus, as he quickly became known by his then Derby boss, is able to look back on the incident with a wry smile.
“I had a routine operation on my fractured cheekbone and once I went under my heart stopped for two-and-a-half minutes and they had to resuscitate me before I woke up in intensive care,” he said.
“I didn’t know anything about it until I came round and was plugged into machines, it was crazy, and I don’t think you understand it at the time. You look back and think ‘that could have been it’.
“They never put their finger on what it was and I’ve had no problems at all since. It changed the way I looked at things for a bit and you look back thinking about things.
“I was playing again three weeks later so it wasn’t all that bad, and I think the manager called me Lazarus.
“A few people were surprised but I had no problems at all, although I did have a protective mask on my cheek.”
Clough subsequently released McEveley from Pride Park in the summer of 2010 as the Rams continued to reduce their costs following relegation from the Premier League, but the Liverpudlian exited on good terms and has no hard feelings.
“He’s a great manager and he gives you a lot of confidence and keeps all the lads involved,” said McEveley.
“I obviously didn’t ever got to see what he was like to work for but I think he’s pretty similar to his old man to be honest because he demands the best out of you.
“There’s no secret they were trying to trim the budget and he made secret of that, and he said he thought it was best if I moved on.
“There were no problems or animosity there at all and I thanked him for working with me and things moved on.”
Bramall Lane is widely-regarded to be home to one of the most hostile crowds in the division, but McEveley has backed his young Town teammates to cope with the occasion.
“I think they are okay and won’t be influenced because they’re very strong minded and we can go anywhere and perform without being intimidated,” he said.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game because the manager will have them organised and because he’s just gone in there the players will have something to prove.
“They’ll be right on their game and we have to be at our best, we know that.”
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