Matt Crooks dreams of becoming the second Premier League player to have epilepsy but insists ‘I don’t let that define me’

Matt Crooks dreams of becoming the second epileptic to play in the Premier League.

This does not mean that epilepsy has ever had or will ever define Middlesbrough’s star.

Matt Crooks aims to be the second-ever Premier League player to have epilepsy

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Matt Crooks aims to be the second ever player to have epilepsy in the Premier Leaguecredit: Getty

Crooks, 27, was diagnosed with his first epileptic seizure at the age of 18 after spending a night with classmates at Huddersfield Academy.

In Scotland, at Rangers in 2017, he arrived at training after another night on the town, but he ran out of medication and he lost his last two pills.

The next thing he remembered was Jersey striker Kenny Miller’s face light up in front of him two hours later.

This was Crocs’ last seizure – and the midfielder is now on the pitch after his summer transfer from Rotherham.

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Asked if the ambition was to become only the second epileptic, after Jay Boothroyd, to play in the First Division, Crooks said: “That would be fine but I haven’t and will never let that define me.

“It’s something that will affect my life forever but I try to put it to one side so I can live my life as best I can.

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

“It’s less on my mind but it’s coming in waves. I’m going to be driving with my kids in the back and I’m going to be like, ‘Did I take my tablets?'”

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

Alcohol, stress and exhaustion are Crooks’ triggers. But while he’s drinking less these days, the 27-year-old doesn’t mind being late. He added, “When I was a professional in my first year or two, I would go out every weekend.

“I have eased my mind but I’ve been on boys’ vacations to Las Vegas and Ibiza and can still enjoy myself.

“Good friends, I make sure I get my tablets because I take them while I go out. I still enjoy a night out and coming home in the wee hours!”

Asked what stresses him out, Crooks laughed: “Can I say madam?

“No, I am quite a relaxed person. One of the side effects of the drug is having a short fuse.

You’ll have to ask others if I’m fast although I’ll say I’m an angel! “

With a young family, getting enough sleep after going out and night matches is crucial.

He said, “Sometimes I come back at three in the morning and my oldest son comes in at seven and says ‘I want to play with my toys.'”

“But my madam removed it because she knows the last thing I need is another epileptic seizure.”

With both parents and three brothers all being deaf, this upbringing was a far cry from the traditional upbringing.

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But he’s playing the best football of his life, with boss Neil Warnock praising his “never heard of” running stats.

Crooks, who has spoken to raise awareness of epilepsy alongside the Peter Doody Foundation, added: “My parents have helped me in some way.

“Being deaf I learned the difficulties they faced. I learned not to treat epilepsy in a negative way.

“My father, who played for the Deaf Olympics team in Great Britain, shaped me as a player, not by being deaf but just by his love of football, and wanted me to do well and pushed me.”

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