Newport boss James Rowberry reveals a routine heart check-up saved his life

The 37-year-old was diagnosed for third-degree atrioventricular heart block and underwent heart surgery.

By Press Association Published: 26 August 2022 - 10.59am

Newport manager James Rowberry has revealed how a routine heart check-up saved his life.

The 37-year-old has had a pacemaker fitted after being diagnosed for third-degree atrioventricular heart block and undergoing heart surgery last month.

“I found out leading up to pre-season after a check-up with the LMA (League Managers Association) that I had something called complete AV heart block,” Rowberry said ahead of Newport’s Sky Bet League Two trip to Harrogate on Saturday.

Port Vale v Newport County – Sky Bet League Two – Vale Park
Newport manager James Rowberry found out about his heart problem in the build-up to pre-season (David Davies/PA)

“The worst kind that you can get as well, third degree, so it wasn’t a great situation that I was in personally.

“In the build-up to the Sutton game I had a pacemaker fitted to keep me alive basically.”

Rowberry had surgery on July 25 and was back at training just a few days later and in time for the season opener at Sutton.

The former Cardiff youth coach, who was appointed Newport manager last October, has been able to work as normal due to the pacemaker.

“It was something that I wasn't expecting to get at the age of 37, but it's nothing to do with football management or stress”
- James Rowberry

He said: “It was a surprise and a shock for my family, I didn’t tell the players until a couple of days before the operation.

“It was something that I wasn’t expecting to get at the age of 37, but it’s nothing to do with football management or stress.

“For the first couple of weeks I felt horrendous. I wasn’t feeling great but wanted to get on with it.

“I was supposed to be a lot calmer on the side but I’m not sure I was. That was a little bit of a tough period, but we got through it.”

Former Newport boss Justin Edinburgh died at the age of 49 in 2019 after suffering a cardiac arrest while manager of Leyton Orient.

County defenders Fraser Franks and Mark O’Brien, who is part of Rowberry’s backroom staff, had to retire because of heart issues.

“I am one of the lucky ones,” said Rowberry, who this week led Newport into the last 32 of the Carabao Cup with a 3-2 victory over Portsmouth.

“I will be forever grateful to the LMA, if it wasn’t for them then who knows what would have happened.

“It is something that has just been picked up and if I wasn’t a manager then I wouldn’t know that I had this, so I am really lucky to be where I am.”

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