Harry Redknapp to manage London Marathon team (PA)
Football manager Harry Redknapp is coming out of retirement to lead a charity team hoping to raise £3 million at the London Marathon inspired by his heart problems a decade ago.
The 75-year-old former West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur boss – nicknamed The Gaffer – will help the British Heart Foundation (BHF) squad of more than 1,600 runners for the race on October 2.
The 2022 TCS London Marathon ballot announcement is on Monday, and he urged all those who successfully secure a place to join Team BHF and raise money for regenerative medicine.
Redknapp – who was crowned King of the Jungle when he won the 2018 series of I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! – has personal reasons for supporting the BHF.
In 2011, he had a problem with a pain in his chest due to the arteries supplying his heart muscle becoming blocked.
“I didn’t feel good, but I was lucky as I was at Tottenham so I had medical people around who could get it sorted for me,” he told the PA news agency.
“Tests showed I had blocked arteries, and now I’m one of the lucky ones as I got the warning signs, got a diagnosis, and got sorted out with an angioplasty and a couple of stents.
“But not everyone gets that chance. Many people are missing out on years of their life or living with pain and suffering that stops them having a decent quality of life.”
Harry Redknapp says he has always kept himself in shape (Isabel Infantes/PA)PA Archive/PA Images - Isabel Infantes
He was with Glenn Hoddle when the former England manager suffered a cardiac arrest in 2018, recovering after emergency surgery, and he said: “You just don’t know when it might happen, and you have to make sure you get checked out.
“The London Marathon is a great vehicle for money raising, and I’ve been down there a couple of times – my son ran it one year – and it’s great to see all the people making that effort, and the training they put into it.”
Redknapp said: “When I was a young player at West Ham we used to get on the coach to go and run through Epping Forest for a couple of hours, it’s all different now of course, we didn’t have heart monitors or anything like that.
“I loved long-distance running, we’d run for miles, I was very skinny, 10 stone 6lb, and running was very easy for me.”
He said he can help runners with fitness tips, and still keeps in shape: “I do a couple of days a week, I have a lad come round and I do some boxing training, I’ve got a punchbag.
“I’m not a drinker, only with a meal and only ever a glass of wine, I’ve never drunk beer in my life and I never put weight on. And I play golf a couple of days a week, and walk the dog every day.”
Redknapp added: “The British Heart Foundation, it is fantastic what they do. That’s why I’m urging everyone who has been successful in getting a London Marathon ballot place to use it to run for the BHF and raise money to help heal hearts.”
Runners cross Tower Bridge during the 2021 London Marathon (Jonathan Brady/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Jonathan Brady
The BHF said nearly a million people in the UK are living with heart failure, which in its severest form has a survival rate worse than many cancers and can be so debilitating that everyday tasks, like climbing a flight of stairs, become a struggle.
Among those competing on Team BHF is Pete Robertson, 49, a father-of-three from Nottinghamshire and a regular runner who completed a half ironman just two weeks before he suffered a heart attack in November 2019.
He said: “I didn’t realise I was having a heart attack at the time. I didn’t think it could happen to me. I’d just completed an ironman.
“The damage to my heart meant I went from being able to easily run a marathon and do triathlons to shuffling around the room.
“The doctors said my fitness pretty much saved me, but I had to start from the beginning again and slowly build my fitness back up. It’s been a long road to recovery, I struggled to come to terms with what had happened to me.”
– Runners who want to use their ballot place to join Team BHF and take on the 2022 TCS London Marathon can find more information, or register to run for the BHF, by visiting: www.bhf.org.uk/londonmarathon2022