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Newport County's Fraser Franks planning for future after heart condition ends career

Franks was advised to retire at 28 to avoid a potentially fatal heart rupture

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Newport County's Fraser Franks spoke openly to Sky Sports News on his sudden retirement from football at 28 and how he is now looking to the future.

Fraser Franks says he is trying to remain positive and plan for the future after a heart condition forced him into sudden early retirement.

The now former Newport County defender spoke openly on how just a matter of weeks after his "proudest" moment in football, his career was cut short by an underlying heart problem.

Two months ago, Franks was leading out Newport County against Leicester City in what turned out to be one of the most famous wins in the club's history.

And Franks has told Sky Sports News how an unexpected series of events since that game eventually led to him having to announce his retirement earlier this week.

"It seems like a long time ago that we were playing in that game," he told Sky Sports News. "I've been fortunate enough to win some promotions during my career but as a day, as an occasion, that's probably one of the proudest I have had in football.

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Highlights from the Sky Bet League Two fixture between Newport and Cheltenham.

"Since then, about a month ago, we played against Manchester City, two days later I played against Notts County - I came off with about 10 minutes to go feeling lethargic.

"The day after I came down with a little bit of illness, some viral symptoms. In bed, sweating with a temperature, stuff like that.

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"I left it until three in the morning and then tapped my wife and said 'look, my chest is racing a little bit here, something doesn't feel right' and luckily enough she took me straight to hospital.

"They took my blood pressure and heart rate. Soon as they saw my heart rate they know something wasn't quite right.

"They treated me for an infection in and around the heart, the heart rate gave them an area to focus on.

 during the FA Cup Third Round match between Newport County and Leicester City at Rodney Parade on January 6, 2019 in Newport, United Kingdom.
Image: Franks celebrates following Newport's FA Cup third round win over Leicester

"I stayed in there for about a week on antibiotics, a drip, had scans done on my heart. I've seen specialists everywhere since and have been told to retire from football."

What began as a normal feeling of exhaustion, quickly escalated into something altogether more serious. Franks is thankful he suffered the initial infection when he did, as it led to a diagnosis which ultimately ended his footballing career.

"It felt like flu symptoms at first, I was fit and healthy and did not think anything of it," he explained. "It's just when I started to get that racing chest feeling.

"I don't usually take myself to the hospital so it must have taken something for me to do that. It's maybe saved my life in a way in the long-term.

"Without that infection that I caught, doctors may not have found the problem that they have."

At 28, Franks says he suffered severe anxiety over his future and his ability to provide for his family, but has been able to see things in a positive light more recently after reaching out for professional help.

"It's complicated to explain," he continued. "I have an issue with a valve in my heart and also my aorta. Doctors and cardiologists I've seen wouldn't want to operate at this stage but if I was to carrying on playing there is risk of rupture and making it worse.

Fraser Franks
Image: Fraser Franks made 320 career appearances for Newport, AFC Wimbledon, Luton and Stevenage

"They're hopeful that if I stop playing now - I have to have regular scanning - that it hopefully won't get any worse. Fingers crossed I can live a normal and healthy lifestyle.

"It was tough. I found out in hospital from the general cardiologist about two weeks before I got a final opinion from a specialist. The two weeks were tough. There is a lot of talk about mental health at the minute - that was probably the lowest I've been. It's the first time I have suffered severe anxiety on the verge of panic attacks.

"The week before I was playing against Man City. First of all your thinking, obviously I have a kid on the way, how am I got to support my family financially. What am I going to do next, where am I going live? You have a million things in your head.

"I have reached out and spoken to people. I was thinking too far ahead but now I have come to terms to it. I understand it's going to be a hard transition to make but it's one I have come to terms with. I can see it in a positive light.

"I am going to be healthy, that's the main thing."

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