Well wishes have been pouring in for Sean Downing after the Bideford forward revealed he has had a stroke.
The 28-year-old was taken to hospital on June 16 after collapsing at his home.
After a stay at North District Hospital, he is now back at home recuperating with his family.
Downing said he hopes to make a full recovery and be back playing football ‘sooner rather than later’.
Downing, who is a primary school teacher, has started writing a blog documenting his recovery, giving a light-hearted insight into some of his hospital rehabilitation and his account of being taken to hospital. He also paid tribute to the NHS staff who have been helping him.
Writing on his blog, Downing said: “Some wonderful nurses and doctors came into my cubicle and asked lots of questions, which the majority of the time I failed, but no worries.
“It then hit me something big had happened. I couldn’t feel my left arm or leg and could barely raise my head off the pillow. I knew through all of this though I was in the best hands possible.”
Downing has been a constant for his hometown club over the last 10 years, scoring 131 goals in 376 appearances, and was a key part of the Southern League Division One South and West title-winning side of 2011/12.
He struck eight times for the Robins in 18 appearances during the cancelled 2019/20 campaign.
Bideford manager Sean Joyce paid tribute to Downing, and said the club would ‘always be there for him’.
Joyce said: “He’s been looking forward to getting back for pre-season with a clean bill of health with his knee, then that comes out of the blue and it puts things in perspective.
“This year would be his testimonial year and if anybody can come back, Sean can. His outlook will be worth another 20 or 30 per cent for his recovery.”
He added: “Football is secondary and way down on his list, but we will be there for him. We always will be.”
Joyce said managers from across the league had been getting in touch to pass on their well wishes.
“Everybody in the league respects Sean and it shows you what a football community we’ve got,” he said.
“He’s turned into a great young man. He came into the side at 17/18 years old with the whole world in front of him. I’ve seen him develop and I’m proud of him and what he’s done, and that’s outside of football too.
“I’ve got nothing but respect for him, and will back him 100 per cent. Bideford will be here for him no matter what.”