Bluebirds’ Hardcastle forced into shock early retirement.

Barrow AFC captain, Lewis Hardcastle, has been forced into hanging up his boots at the age of 22, after the shock discovery of a genetic heart condition.

Hardcastle left the field feeling unwell in the Bluebirds’ game at Salford, in February, and subsequent medical examinations revealed that the young midfielder was suffering from a genetic condition called ‘Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy’ (ARVC); a rare disease of the heart muscle.

The devastating news was announced in a statement by the club, which read:

‘Barrow AFC is saddened to announce the retirement from professional football of Lewis Hardcastle.

After he became ill during our game at Salford City last month, investigations uncovered an issue with his heart.

Following the diagnosis of his condition, Lewis underwent a procedure to treat it. However, after further consultations with cardiologists, he has received medical advice which has, devastatingly, left him unable to continue his career.’

In his own statement, on his Twitter account, Hardcastle explained why he was left with little choice but to call time on his promising professional career.

‘My doctor broke the news that no footballer or young athlete should ever hear, he told me my case was so severe that I needed an ICD (defibrillator) implanted into my heart to save my life.

He advised that it would be unsafe to play football again due to the risk of me having a cardiac arrest. My life is worth more than football and I could not put my family through the worry of watching me knowing that something could happen.’

The news saw outpourings of support from fans and teammates alike on social media, sharing their sadness at the curtailment of a such a young career, as well as thanks for what he achieved in his time at Holker Street.

Hardcastle was a key part of the promotion-winning squad that won the Vanarama National League last season, returning the club to the Football League for the first time in 48 years, and took the captain’s armband in the club’s first game back, against Stevenage in September 2020.

A graduate of the Blackburn Rovers academy, Hardcastle joined the Bluebirds from Rovers following an impressive loan spell in 2019, having previously enjoyed spells at Salford and Port Vale, going on to make 69 appearances at Holker Street, scoring seven goals.

‘I would like to thank everyone that has supported me to this point, I’ve met some incredible people along the way that I cannot thank enough,’ continued Hardcastle’s statement.

‘I love football more than anything but I’m afraid my life is worth a lot more than that. All good things come to an end eventually, I just didn’t think mine would be so soon.’

Everyone at SportFurness would like to wish Lewis good health and all the best for the future.

Written By
Andrew Steel

Andrew Steel

Barrow AFC Correspondent

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