Matt Crooks dreams of becoming second player with epilepsy in Premier League history but insists “I don’t let him define me”



MATT CROOKS dreams of becoming the second epileptic to play in the Premier League.

Not that epilepsy has ever defined, or ever will define, the Middlesbrough star.


Matt Crooks aims to become second player with epilepsy in Premier League historyCredit: Getty

Crooks, 27, was diagnosed with the disease after his first seizure at the age of 18 after a night out with his Huddersfield academy teammates.

In Scotland, at Rangers in 2017, he arrived in training after another night on the town but was out of meds and had missed his last two pills.

The next thing he remembered was the face of Gers striker Kenny Miller lighting up in front of him two hours later.

It was Crooks’ last grab – and the midfielder now flies onto the pitch after his summer move from Rotherham.

Three wins put Boro back in the promotion mix.

And when asked if the ambition was to become only the second epileptic, after Jay Bothroyd, to play in the top flight, Crooks replied: “It would be good but I didn’t and will not let him. absolutely not define me.

“It’s something that’s going to impact my life forever, but I try to put it aside so that I can live my life the best that I can.

“I haven’t had a seizure in four years – if I take my pills, I’m fine.

“It’s less on my mind, but it will come in waves. I’ll be driving the car with my boys in the back and I’ll be like, did I take my pills?

“That’s the main thing that worries me now, making sure my kids are okay. “

Alcohol, stress and fatigue are the triggers for Crooks. But if he drinks less these days, the 27-year-old isn’t averse to being late. He added, “When I was pro in my first or second year, I went out every weekend.

“I calmed down, but I’ve been on a boys’ vacation to Las Vegas and Ibiza and I can still have fun.

“My friends are good, they make sure I have my pills because I take them when I’m out. I always like going out at night and coming home in the early morning!

When asked what stressed him out, Crooks laughed, “Can I say my wife?

“No, I’m more of a laid back person. One of the side effects of the drug is having a short fuse.

You should ask others if I am lively, I would say that I am an angel!

With a young family, getting enough sleep after away games and at night is crucial.

He said, “Sometimes I come home at three in the morning and my oldest son comes in at seven saying, ‘I want to play with my toys.’

“But my wife shoots him down because she knows the last thing I need is another fit.”

With his two parents and three brothers all deaf, it was far from a conventional education.

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But he’s playing the best football of his life, with boss Neil Warnock praising his “unheard of” running stats.

Crooks, speaking to raise awareness about epilepsy alongside the Peter Doody Foundation, added: “My parents have helped me in a way.

“By being deaf, I learned about the difficulties they encountered. I learned not to treat epilepsy negatively.

“My dad, who played for Britain’s Deaf Olympic team, shaped me as a player, not by being deaf, but just by loving football, wanting me to succeed and pushing myself. . “

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