Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock explains how he died on surgery table as heart stopped

Ex-Liverpool hardman Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock has revealed how he “died” on the operating table as medics gave him emergency heart surgery.

Ruddock, one of the stars of hit ITV show Harry’s Heroes, was plunged into the life-or-death drama after doctors found his heart was beating twice as fast as it should have been.

The 52-year-old was told he had to have a pacemaker fitted – but before that could happen he had to have an operation whereby his heart was “zapped” several times.

However, his heart stopped during the procedure – known as a cardioversion – and he was “technically dead for several seconds”.

Ruddock, who starred in defence for Liverpool

, Tottenham, West Ham and Southampton, was told he needed the surgery after years of going on booze-fuelled benders.

Ruddock needed emergency surgery after years of going on booze-fuelled benders
(Image: Charlie Hall <charlie.hall@reachplc.com>)

“At my worst I was crazy,” the dad-of-four told the Daily Star. “I was doing three or four ­bottles of wine a day, easy-peasy, plus spirits, beers, cocktails.

“Before I could get my pacemaker I had to have my heart zapped to slow it down.

“They zap it seven times. If your heartbeat doesn’t return to normal after seven times, you’re in trouble.

“Mine came back the third time they did it – but it stopped and I was technically dead for several seconds.”

Ruddock had the procedure after doctors found that his resting heart rate was at least 130 beats per minute – when it should have been around 60 or 70.

He said: “They also found out my heart had been stopping for up to seven seconds every night.

“Just going up the stairs it must have been going at 140 or 150 beats a minute – that’s a workout rate. It’s gone back to 60, 70 or 80 beats now when resting.”

He only discovered the dangerous state of his health when he was sent for a health check-up while filming Harry Heroes, which follows a team of retired football stars tackling the issues which affect their lives.

During one episode of the show, Ruddock could be seen arguing with former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson, who told his pal his drinking was “out of control”.

“Harry’s Heroes sent me to a heart surgeon to check everything was alright because I was getting dizzy just running upstairs,” he said.

Ruddock, pictured on ITV show Harry Heroes, admits he used to drink ‘three or four bottles of wine a day’

“I thought, ‘Oh, no, it could be brain trauma after heading too many footballs’. But they found it was from my heart beating too fast, so that was a big wake-up call.”

After surviving the initial op, Ruddock was fast-tracked to have the pacemaker fitted – which he said was the most painful experience he had ever been through.

“You’re awake when they fit it,” said the former centre-half. “They numbed my heart area then they did it – it was the worst pain of my life.

“I could see the surgeon pushing it in and it was quite daunting. I was on my own, but I had a great German surgeon, who had a great sense of humour and put some disco music on to help me.

“It hurts so much and sometimes it doesn’t take. I was just wanting it to work because I didn’t want to go through that pain again.

Ruddock in action for Liverpool against his former club Tottenham in 1994
(Image: Getty Images)

“The doctors said, ‘We got you just in time’. I’m just glad I didn’t have dementia from heading too many balls.”

Ruddock, who has two daughters Pebbles and Kizzy with wife Leah, said the stakes were so high before his surgery that he made a will.

But he said: “I knew I’d be fine – I’ve got quite a happy-go-lucky ­attitude and I’m a brave boy. Nothing really gets me down.”

Once the coronavirus lockdown ends, Ruddock, who hung up his boots in 2003, is keen to get back to after-dinner speaking, which is organised through his agent Tony Clarke’s Soccer Speaker business.

“For the last 10 years the buzz of doing those speeches has replaced the buzz of winning a football game – I love it,” he said.

Ruddock, pictured his wife Leah, says he has a great life and wants to be around for a long time
(Image: GC Images)

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“I want to keep doing it, and I want a long life.

“And I’ve still got a great life ahead of me – a lovely wife and lovely kids.”

Ruddock is now taking bookings for motivational talks or video chats through soccerspeaker.co.uk

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