Sheffield United legend released from hospital after heart operation

Alan Birchenall during his days with Sheffield United.
Alan Birchenall during his days with Sheffield United.
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Sheffield United legend Alan Birchenall has been released from hospital after undergoing a heart operation after collapsing at an awards ceremony.

"The Birch" is now recovering at home after he had a heart attack at an awards ceremony in Leicester last Thursday evening.

He was transferred to Glenfield Hospital after collapsing while representing another of his clubs, Leicester City, at the Leicester Mercury Sports Awards at Leicester Tigers’ Welford Road stadium and underwent an heart operation.

The former Blades goal-grabber told Twitter followers that he had undergone an operation after a nurse gave him four shocks with a defibrillator after he fell ill at the event.

The 71-year-old sports star took to social media at the weekend to tell fans he was well enough to watch the Chelsea v Leicester football match from his hospital bed.

Nurse Lisa Fereday, who was attending as her daughter was nominated, and who used a defibrillator on him said Mr Birchenall's first words were, "Wow, what just happened?".

She said: "I started chest compressions and asked for the automatic defib to be brought to me as soon as possible and someone ran for that.

"When it came I attached that and was able to deliver a shock for his arrhythmia which was pivotal in saving his life.

"After the fourth shock he came back round and was breathing for himself again and the first thing he said to me was, 'Wow, what just happened then?'."

Birchenall works as an ambassador at Leicester City's King Power Stadium but began his career at Sheffield United, scoring 31 goals in 107 games between 1963 and 1967.

Signed by then United manager John Harris, Birchenall was a skilful attacking midfielder who initially played in the Blades youth and reserve team where he became a prolific goal scorer. He made his league debut a year after he was signed playing against Stoke City in September 1964.

Nicknamed The Birch, Birchenall soon cemented himself in the Blades first team, endearing himself to the fans by scoring both goals against local rivals Sheffield Wednesday in a 2–0 victory at Hillsborough in only his second game.

Netting nine goals in his first twelve First Division games he soon formed a formidable partnership with fellow striker Mick Jones who he had played with as a Nottinghamshire schoolboy.

In 1967 however, with United seeking to raise funds both Birchenall and Jones were sold in quick succession with Birchenall being transferred to Chelsea.

Birchenall was among the first players to command a £100,000 price tag when he made the move in November 1967.

In a 20-year career,he also played for Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Notts County, Blackburn Rovers and Luton Town.