15-year-old diabetic Jordan Holt from Haxby, York plays football for Wales

A proud Jordan Holt, who has played football for Wales under-16s despite being diagnosed with diabetes

A proud Jordan Holt, who has played football for Wales under-16s despite being diagnosed with diabetes

First published in News

DIABETIC Jordan Holt has played football for Wales – only a year after collapsing and spending three days in intensive care.

The 15-year-old from Haxby was on holiday in Spain with his family in August last year when he suddenly fell ill.

His parents, Steve and Karen, who had no idea he had diabetes, became worried when he struggled to get out of bed one morning, and called a doctor.

Steve said she carried out a swift test which showed his blood sugar levels were “off the scale”.

Jordan was rushed to hospital, where he was almost losing consciousness on arrival. Treatment started immediately, and Jordan was released after five days.

The Joseph Rowntree School pupil lost a stone in weight but, within weeks, went for a delayed trial at Premier League club Hull City and was taken on.

Now, despite requiring four insulin injections a day, the centre back has won his first international cap in a 1-1 under-16s’ draw with the Republic of Ireland and is preparing for a week-long tour of France with his country.

Jordan, who used to play for Wigginton Grasshoppers, where Steve is a coach, said today: “There couldn't be a bigger contrast with a year ago. It’s such a dramatic change.

“It was a nightmare. I didn’t know what was wrong with me at first. We were abroad and I thought it might be dehydration or heat stroke.

“At the beginning, I was worried my football career might be over before it had really started.

“Now I think I’m almost back to full fitness. I have got used to doing the injections and take it in my stride.”

He said he had been told about Gary Mabbutt, the former England player, who won FA and UEFA cups with Tottenham despite having the illness. “He has shown it can be done,” he said.

“Words can’t describe how I felt when I went out for Wales. It was the proudest moment of my life – so far.”

Steve, who was a spectator at Jordan’s debut, said: “We are really proud of him.

“We’d be proud anyway, but to do this after having to overcome these difficulties makes it an even greater achievement. He has done really well considering what he went through a year ago.”

He said when Jordan’s condition was initially diagnosed, he had remembered how other sportsmen such as Mabbutt and Steve Redgrave had reached the top despite suffering from diabetes.

As well as his Welsh commitments, Jordan is now beginning the final year of his GCSE studies, and will be hoping the academic year ends with the offer of an apprenticeship with top-flight Hull.

Star Gary hails success

FORMER England and Tottenham star Gary Mabbutt today hailed Jordan’s “great” achievement in playing for Wales.

Gary, honorary vice-president of the charity Diabetes UK, told The Press: “This is a great feelgood story. He has come through the trauma of being diagnosed and proved himself to Hull City and the Welsh national side, and that is a great achievement for him.”

He also spoke of the similarities between the way he and Jordan discovered they had the illness, saying they had both been in their teens and both feared at first it would mean the end of their football careers.

“When I was first told, I went through exactly the same thing. It comes as a huge shock to you and your family,” he said. “Your first thought is that this might be the end of your ambitions.”

He said he was 17 and playing in Bristol Rovers’ first team when he fell ill and the condition was diagnosed.

Within four weeks, he was back in the first team.

The defender went on to play for Tottenham for 16 years, and was in their FA Cup and UEFA Cup winning teams.

He also won 16 England caps and his achievements were recognised with an MBE.

Beating barriers

A LEADING diabetes charity today hailed Jordan’s achievement as proof that the illness is not a barrier to a fulfilling, active life.

Cathy Moulton, care advisor at Diabetes UK, said being diagnosed with diabetes when people were teenagers obviously had a great impact on their life.

“It can be a difficult and destabilising experience and many young people have problems controlling their blood glucose levels and managing their condition effectively,” she said.

“Nevertheless, the story of this young man proves that having Type 1 diabetes is not a barrier to having a fulfilling, active life and does not prevent people with the condition from taking on new challenges, including embarking on a career as a professional sportsperson.”

Rower Steve Redgrave has told in the past how he thought his rowing career would be over when his diabetes was first diagnosed, but after successful treatment, his sport had helped him cope with the problems it caused.

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