The real reason Sheffield Wednesday-linked winger Josh Sims has been out of contract so long

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“I genuinely thought I was having a heart attack,” said Josh Sims, holding his chest in memory of the feeling of suffocation. “This was a stabbing pain and different to anything I had before.”

From the outside looking in, it’s a point of curiosity that the former England youth international has been without a club since his Southampton contract ran dry last summer.

A 24-year-old free agent who was stepping out in the Premier League not too long ago, his is a skill set surely attractive to just about any EFL club; tricky, fast, with an eye for goal. In his last season at Doncaster Rovers – under Darren Moore – he nailed 11 goal contributions in 28 matches.

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And yet, linked with a host of clubs including Sheffield Wednesday in the summer, Sims remained a free agent.

“It was funny, because I knew they [transfer rumours] weren’t true,” he told The Athletic in November. “I had other players messaging asking whether I was joining their club.”

The fact is, Moore and a host of other EFL managers may well have been keen. But issues with poor health have cost the former England youth star greatly. Thankfully, months on, he is getting back to somewhere approaching football fitness.

Myocarditis is a hugely under-publicised condition that causes sudden bouts of extreme pain in the heart. He also has ulcerative colitis, the bowel issue famously handled by former Manchester United man Darren Fletcher.

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It was towards the back end of his time with Doncaster that he was diagnosed with colitis. It’s now under control. By May, he had begun to suffer with chest issues.

Former Southampton starlet Josh Sims is looking forward to a return to football.Former Southampton starlet Josh Sims is looking forward to a return to football.
Former Southampton starlet Josh Sims is looking forward to a return to football.

“I had never heard of myocarditis,” he said reflecting on being rushed to hospital with chronic heart pain around the time he was released by the Saints, his boyhood club.

“I was moved to a ward and I remember lying there and Googling it. I lay there crying as I thought I was never going to be able to play again because of a heart problem.

“Because of my myocarditis, I have scar tissue on my heart and that means part of my heart doesn’t beat,” he said. “The cardiologist said you can have up to 20 per cent of scar tissue before being told you can’t play football.

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“But it was really good, positive news. There is a tiny bit of scar tissue, which is to be expected, but the patch would determine whether it was going to affect my heartbeat and it didn’t. It was all really positive and that was a massive weight off my shoulders.

“That was a big turning point for me, because it meant I could start thinking about playing football again.”

Sims has since spoken to a number of clubs that are keeping tabs on his progress. Sheffield Wednesday are believed to be one of them.

“We are still taking it slow, but I’ve got a goal now,” he explained. “January is the best-case scenario, and we will work from there.

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“Where I move next, they will obviously be aware of my heart. There are still a lot of clubs interested, which has helped me a lot. Knowing clubs still want you is a really big thing because, at the start, I was thinking nobody would want me.”