An inspiring line-up of footballers impacted by life-threatening heart conditions are joining forces to urge more than a quarter of a million people to learn lifesaving CPR.

Former international stars Graeme Souness, David Ginola and Glenn Hoddle took their places alongside Luton Town captain Tom Lockyer as we joined Sky Bet to unveil a ground-breaking new campaign - ‘Every Minute Matters’ - at Wembley Stadium.

‘Every Minute Matters’ aims to recruit 270,000 people – the equivalent of three Wembley’s – to learn lifesaving CPR over the next 12 months.

And Sky Bet is pledging to donate up to £3 million to support our vital work, starting with £10,000 for every goal scored during normal and extra time during the Sky Bet Play-Offs – which begin this Friday and end with three showpiece finals at England’s national stadium later this month.

Re-Starting 11

Souness, Ginola, Hoddle and Lockyer are part of the ‘Re-Starting 11’ – a one-off team including Fabrice Muamba, Derby County defender Megan Tinsley and Wigan Athletic striker Charlie Wyke - who will share their own stories and give others the skills to tackle the ultimate medical emergency.

The ‘Re-Starting 11’ also features football fans who have either survived a cardiac arrest or saved someone’s life.

Souness, who was diagnosed with coronary heart disease in his early 30s, said: “CPR saves lives – and you only have to look at our Re-Starting 11 to see that. It’s a privilege to join a team of inspiring people, many who are only here today thanks to CPR, as we stand with Sky Bet and the British Heart Foundation to call on the nation to take action.

“Every day, more than 80 people will suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in the UK – and that’s why we need more people to learn CPR through RevivR.

“Together we can equip thousands more fans with the knowledge and confidence to perform these lifesaving skills, because in the crucial moments following a cardiac arrest every minute really does matter.”

Lockyer, who collapsed during last year’s Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final and survived a cardiac arrest in December, added: “I was lucky that in the moment when my heart stopped, those nearby knew the skills to save my life.

“Without the prompt actions of medical staff who gave me CPR and defibrillation, I simply wouldn’t be here today – and I’m forever grateful for that.

“That’s why I’m joining the Re-Starting 11 as we call for more football fans to learn CPR. If every fan in every club took 15 minutes to learn CPR with RevivR, it could help save thousands of lives.” 

Just 15 minutes

Although many of us will witness a cardiac arrest in our lifetime, we estimate that around 23 million UK adults have never learnt the lifesaving skill of CPR.

Our free, interactive online training course, RevivR, can teach anyone how to save a life in 15 minutes. The simple course requires no medical experience and can be completed with just a mobile phone and a cushion to practice on. After completing the training, 97 per cent of users feel confident enough to give CPR and use a defibrillator.

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, our Chief Executive, said: “Millions have watched as players and fans have suffered devastating cardiac arrests in football stadiums – cardiac arrests really can happen to anyone, anywhere and at any time.

“Every Minute Matters will equip thousands of fans with lifesaving CPR skills, giving them the confidence to step in during the ultimate medical emergency. It will also fund millions of pounds of groundbreaking research into new treatments and cures for heart conditions.

“With the support of legends from the world of football who have been affected by devastating heart conditions, this ambitious partnership will undoubtedly save lives.”

Life and death

Professor Bryan Williams, our Chief Scientific and Medical Officer, said: “In the event of a cardiac arrest, CPR and defibrillation can be the difference between life and death. Starting immediate CPR is vital as it takes over the function of the heart, keeping blood and oxygen moving to the brain and around the body, with a defibrillator delivering a controlled electric shock to try and get the heart beating normally again.

“That's why it's so vital for more people to learn CPR through RevivR. Our partnership with Sky Bet could lead to hundreds of thousands of fans learning lifesaving skills, so they are ready to step in and help during the ultimate medical emergency.”

The Every Minute Matters activity in May is just the start of a year-long campaign. Throughout the summer and the 2024/25 season, we will work together with Sky Bet on raising awareness and in tackling specific issues to help in the fight against out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. 

To learn more about CPR, fundraising and the "Every Minute Matters" campaign, click here.