Suffolk clubs to play friendly for striker forced to retire with heart condition
PUBLISHED: 13:45 03 January 2019 | UPDATED: 13:45 03 January 2019
Two Suffolk non-league clubs are to stage a friendly fixture to raise awareness of cardiomyopathy, writes Nick Garnham.
Woodbridge Town striker Matt Mackenzie, who has been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, was recently forced to retire from playing at the age of just 26 on medical advice.
Tests revealed Mackenzie has the condition, which is a disease of the heart muscle that makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body, and can lead to heart failure.
Woodbridge Town and Felixstowe & Walton United have agreed to play a pre-season friendly in late July 2019, to raise awareness of cardiomyopathy.
Mackenzie started his football career with the Seasiders as an under-7, before progressing all the way to the club’s first team. He also played locally for Ipswich Wanderers.
Woodbridge Town joint interim chairman Richard Scott said: “Cardiomyopathy affects over 160,000 people in the UK, many of whom will currently be participating in Suffolk sports, either aware, or perhaps unaware, of the condition.
“Although high-profile incidences in professional sport occasionally alerts us all to the potential and often severe consequences of heart conditions in professional sport, more awareness is clearly required within amateur, grassroots and local sports.
“By hosting a pre-season friendly fixture, Woodbridge Town and Felixstowe & Walton United football clubs are both committed to raising awareness of cardiomyopathy to all local sportsmen and women.”
Mackenzie, who spoke out about his condition to raise awareness, received a video message via Twitter from Matt Le Tissier and his fellow Sky Sports’ pundits who feature on the Gillette Soccer Saturday programme.
Ex-Southampton and England midfielder Le Tissier said: “Hi Matt, so sorry to hear the news that you have had to retire at the age of 26 mate, absolutely shocking, but the boys just wanted to wish you all the best with whatever you choose to do in the future, mate. Best of luck.”
Fellow pundits Phil Thompson and Paul Merson, who both played for England, and former Scotland striker Charlie Nicholas can be seen in the video and then heard wishing Mackenzie ‘Good Luck’ at the end of the 15-second clip.