Transplant op keeper Ryan’s happy return

A popular local footballer who refused to let kidney disease blight his life has made an emotional return to action after a transplant saying: “I was determined not to let it beat me.”

Despite deteriorating health problems, goalkeeper Ryan Starkey has carved out a successful career with Camden Tavern over the years, even enjoying Carrow Road success with the Yarmouth outfit in 2007.

But at the end of last season he was forced to reluctantly give up playing the game he loves to fully focus on his health. Last August he received the 6am phone call which has since transformed his life as a dash to Cambridge was followed by a successful five-hour kidney transplant operation at Addenbrooke’s.

Now Ryan, 28, who has battled kidney problems all his life and used to undergo four-hour dialysis sessions three times a week – is urging other sufferers to stay as positive and active as possible, however dark the outlook may seem. “I have met a few other people with the same condition and I have told them that just because you have got this doesn’t mean it’s the end of things – it’s actually the start. There is a life to be led if the attitude is right,” he insisted.

Recently Ryan turned up to Camden’s game expecting to run the line but instead was offered the number one jersey after managers Luke Price and Steve Bishop told him regular keeper Robert Thornton was out with a shoulder injury.

“My kicking wasn’t great but we won 4-0. I kept a clean sheet and it was just great to be back and involved again. It was brilliant – I felt like I should have done it sooner,” he said.

Ryan, who used to have to sleep for up to three hours after games because of illness and exhaustion, hopes to keep playing this season by turning out for Camden’s Reserve team but is ready to step up to the first team as and when needed, which could even mean a Carrow Road date as Camden will play Marlborough in the Norfolk Sunday Senior Cup final on May 16.

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“Robert is the regular goalkeeper so I don’t expect to play at Carrow Road but I have been with the club for years and I will be there one way or the other,” said Ryan, the current Pub on the Shrubs Yarmouth and District Saturday League secretary.