Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Epilepsy Has Not Stopped Legge Achieving His Goal

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Epilepsy Has Not Stopped Legge Achieving His Goal

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon Johnson Football Correspondent

THE biggest worry for most young footballers is whether they are good enough to have a professional career. However, Leon Legge's greatest fear used to be whether he would wake up in hospital.

The 25-year-old Brentford defender was 16 when he discovered he had epilepsy after having a seizure while training.

Legge was playing for Little Common in the Sussex County League and thoughts of a career in the game were far away as he tried to cope with the neurological condition that affects around 450,000 people in the UK.

"When I first had epilepsy I did have a few scary fits," he said. "It's a strange sensation. The first seizure I had was at football training, but all the other times after that were in my sleep.

"I would go to bed and the next thing I knew I was waking up in hospital. It was really scary to wake up and not know where you are.

"At first it was something that got to me, but you learn to deal with it. Once you're on the right medication you can get on with things and lead a normal life. Luckily, I had a mild case. "It was worse five years ago, but nothing has really happened to me for a while. I still take medication for it, two tablets a day, but I can do stuff that I was able to do before.

"I can go clubbing, the strobe lights aren't a problem, which is good as it's important to be able to let your hair down once in a while. It's pretty controlled."

Any chance of Legge becoming blase about the nature of his condition was quickly forgotten when he started working at Bridgewater House in Hastings a few years after his first seizure. He took the job at the centre that treats people with learning disabilities when it appeared that his football career had come to a standstill. While he was there, he met one patient who had a more severe case of epilepsy.

Legge said: "The memories came back when I started looking after this guy but I knew what to look for.

"I knew when he was about to have a fit. There were signs just before he had a seizure. He was a couple of years younger than me and was easy to get on with. …

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