Port Vale captain, Leon Legge, has shared his experiences with epilepsy, and how a footballer copes in lockdown, in a new podcast.
Chatting to the epilepsycast podcast, Legge, aged 34, spoke of his personal mission to educate others about epilepsy, a condition he has had since he was 16 years old. He revealed that the fact he has epilepsy has never been a problem for any of the football clubs he has played for.
Listen to the Podcast here
Legge, who has been at Port Vale since 2018, shared that he is using the time in lockdown to keep his fitness up, and play with his kids. He has even bought a bike and is taking the chance to go on long cycle rides. On when, and if, football should return as lockdown eases, Legge was clear that this should only happen when players’ safety can be guaranteed, as well as that of their families and clubs’ support staff.
More people need to know about epilepsy so it isn’t this big scary thing. Every case is different, but there is stuff that we can all relate to…
Legge had his first seizure at a training session in 2004. He had uncontrolled epilepsy causing many seizures throughout the time his football career was getting off the ground. Fortunately, he has never experienced stigma from any club because of the condition. He said: “With that first seizure, I headed the ball, and as I came back down to the floor everything went black. I woke up seeing all my teammates around me. Fortunately, the coach had a daughter who has epilepsy so he knew what to do.
“My epilepsy has never been a problem to my football clubs. When I arrive at a new club, they take my medical history. We chat about what triggers my seizures and what they need to do if I have a seizure and that’s that. It shouldn’t be a stigmatised condition, but I know it often is.”
Legge is on a mission to tell as many people about epilepsy as possible: “Whenever I’ve spoken about it with teammates, or when my mates have asked questions, I see that it reassures people. More people need to know about epilepsy so it isn’t this big scary thing. Every case is different, but there is stuff that we can all relate to.”
On the podcast, Legge reveals that achieving this goal isn’t always easy. He has seen people in social media comments deny that absence seizures exist. He also speaks passionately about a ‘seizure challenge’ that is currently being shared on TikTok. The challenge sees people cruelly imitating someone having a tonic clonic seizure, while a Juice Wrld song plays. Legge explains: “What makes the Tik Tok challenge even worse is that the rapper Juice Wrld died from a seizure. Stuff like this just makes getting people to understand epilepsy even harder.”
When asked what his advice would be to someone who has just been diagnosed with epilepsy, Legge said: “Don’t be scared. There’s a lot of people out there with information. Take the advice from your doctors. Don’t be scared to be open about it, with your friends and family, they’re the ones who are there to help.”
Epilepsycast is a new podcast about all things epilepsy from UK charity Epilepsy Action. Through candid conversations, the podcast captures a little bit of what it is like to live with epilepsy in the UK today. The first episode, with Leon Legge, will be released on Monday 18 May to mark National Epilepsy Week. Further episodes will be released every other Monday.
Epilepsy affects around one in every 100 people in the UK and 87 people are diagnosed with the condition every day. Each year, Epilepsy Action directly helps around 2 million people. The charity is committed to improving the lives of people with epilepsy, by campaigning for better services and raising awareness of the condition. At the moment, the charity’s freephone helpline, 0808 800 5050, is being staffed remotely. It is providing much-needed support to people affected by epilepsy in these challenging times.