LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 27: Sonny Bradley of Luton Town celebrates with the trophy alongside the shirt of Tom Lockyer during the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final match between Coventry City and Luton Town at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Tom Lockyer Thanks Medical Staff As Wales Defender Sends Out Message After Luton’s Wembley Triumph

By David Williams

Luton Town captain Tom Lockyer has thanked medical staff for their “swift and thorough response” after collapsing during his side’s Sky Bet Championship play-off final victory against Coventry.

The Wales defender fell to the floor while running back during the match and received treatment before being carried off the pitch on a stretcher.

The game went to penalties after Jordan Clark’s opener was cancelled out by Gustavo Hamer to finish 1-1 after extra time, and the Hatters secured Premier League football for next season with a 6-5 victory on penalties.

Luton players held up Lockyer’s shirt throughout their celebrations and the captain posted an update on Instagram.

He said: “Well not quite where I thought I’d be celebrating at the final whistle!

“I would just like to say a massive thank you to the amazing physios and doctors at Luton and Wembley for the swift and thorough response.

“A much scarier moment for everyone else than myself I am sure!

“Commiserations to Coventry a fantastic opponent over 3 games which had to be decided by penalties.

“I am currently in hospital under precaution and will stay here overnight for further tests in the morning.

“I am feeling very much myself, helped by the way the lads left it all out on pitch! It’s such an honour to be part of this team.. Premier League baby.”

A thrilling finale at Wembley saw victory secure a return to the top flight for Luton for the first time since 1992.

It is a remarkable turnaround given just nine years ago the Hatters ended a five-season stretch in the fifth tier, but their Welsh manager Rob Edwards admitted emotions were “mixed” afterwards following Lockyer’s collapse.

“I felt a bit numb. I just made sure I shook Mark’s hand and his staff,” Edwards said.

“I don’t want to be that guy that just starts running off and celebrating before I’ve seen the other manager.

“I just felt very numb. I still do. It hasn’t sunk in quite yet. It might take a few days, but it’s great. It does feel good.

“It was mixed because of Locks (Lockyer), that’s why I couldn’t really go for it celebrating.

Edwards’ delight at Luton ending their 31-year wait for Premier League football was nothing compared to the relief he felt at the news captain Lockyer was all right.

Joe Taylor saw a winner ruled out just before spot-kicks, with Fankaty Dabo’s sudden-death miss sealing a 6-5 shoot-out triumph that propelled Luton back into the top-flight for the first time since 1992.

The dramatic triumph means the Hatters will welcome Manchester City and Co just nine years after facing the likes of Salisbury and Hyde in the Conference Premier.

It was a day that will live long in the memory of anybody connected to Luton, whose players held a Lockyer shirt throughout the celebrations.

The Hatters captain collapsed when running back to defence in the early stages of the final, leaving the field on a stretcher and being taken to hospital for tests.

Luton confirmed Lockyer was “responsive and talking to his family”, with his dad posting an image of him in a hospital bed celebrating the shoot-out win.

Edwards cried with delight when he saw that image and hopes to soon celebrate with the much-loved skipper.

“If I’m allowed I would love to go and see him, but then I think we’re so tight as a group that I’m not sure if 40-odd people are allowed to go and see him in hospital.

“We will have to check on that, but I’m just so thankful that he’s OK because that’s all that matters.

“I wasn’t really able to enjoy any celebration at the end because all I cared about was Locks.”

As for Coventry, it was a heartbreaking end to a memorable season.

Bottom of the table in October and taken over at the start of the year, boss Mark Robins was agonisingly close to leading the Sky Blues from League Two to the top flight.

“Firstly, congratulations to Luton because once the game is over and done with you’ve got to congratulate the winners,” the long-serving Coventry boss said.

“They’ve come out on top today, however tight the game may have been.

“Congratulations to them and their supporters. I think they have been outstanding all season and good luck to them moving forward.

“I think for us, certainly the opposite of their joy is pain.

“You certainly feel a bit of pain, but once that pain starts to dissipate in however long it takes for it to go, we’ve got to reflect on what an unbelievable achievement it’s been just to even be here today in a play-off final.

“The division is very, very tough as we all know and unfortunately we couldn’t make that next step.”

 

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