Rangers defender Connor Goldson has backed calls for volunteers to join a new project to tackle Scotland’s biggest health problems.
The 26-year-old feared he could have been forced to retire from the game in 2017 after a specialist noticed something unusual with his heart.
After being diagnosed with an enlarged aorta, the player underwent surgery – without which the condition could have been fatal.
Goldson has now praised the work of Chest Heart & Stoke Scotland (CHSS) and has given his support to the charity’s new “Health Defence” project, based in the Drumchapel area of Glasgow.
The project aims to reduce the risk of stroke, chest and heart conditions and tackle health inequalities across Scotland.
It will involve volunteers providing health checks, healthy living workshops and ongoing support to people who want to make changes to their lifestyle to improve their health.
The charity has called for volunteer coaches to help provide support to people in hard to reach communities.
Reflecting on his own health scare, Goldson said: “It was just a routine check-up when they found the problem with my heart. It was a huge shock – I was terrified I’d never play again.
“It’s really scary to think of what could have happened if I hadn’t found out about my heart problem. I was really lucky.
“It’s a great thing that CHSS is doing in Glasgow. It’s so important for people to find out their health risks and make positive changes.
“Make your time matter and volunteer with CHSS’ Health Defence team. You’ll be helping people in Glasgow make changes to their lifestyle so that they can live a longer and healthier life.
“When you have a health scare like I did, it makes you realise how precious life is.”
Glasgow city has the highest rate of deaths from coronary heart disease in people under the age of 75 in Scotland and the highest rate of deaths relating to long-term lung condition COPD.
In 2017, the life expectancy for both males and females in Scotland was lowest in Glasgow.
Joanna Teece of CHSS said: “Too often where you live in Scotland determines how long you live for. We must do everything we can to tackle these health inequalities head-on.
“Parts of Glasgow have a history of poor health and low life expectancy, that’s why we’re starting the programme here.
“By supporting people in their communities and providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to live a healthier life, we can make a change.
“This is people’s chance to get onside, volunteer with us and defend Scotland’s health. We’ll match you with someone who you can check in on, motivate and cheer on as they make healthy changes.
“As Rangers Charity Foundation partner, the support we have had from the players, the club and the foundation has been absolutely fantastic in helping us reach more people and change more lives.
“Make your time matter. Join our Health Defence team and help people in Scotland have extra time with those they love.”