Rangers hero Connor Goldson 'feared he might die' before open-heart surgery to save his life
Rangers star Connor Goldson has revealed he feared he might die after being diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition at the age of 24.
The defender was told he had an aortic aneurysm – a swelling of the large artery which passes through the abdomen which was at risk of bursting – in February 2017. A month later he had surgery - and at that moment it was not only his career on the line, but his life too.
The trauma of his diagnosis reduced him to tears - but now, six years on, the Ibrox star is fit and healthy after getting the all-clear in several annual check ups since.
He said: I don’t see it anymore, it’s just part of me, part of my body. It looks nice. I like it because it shows what I’ve been through. The only thing, obviously, with a scar, is when you are in the showers here people ask questions. I don’t mind talking about it now.
“Truthfully, I’ve never really spoken about it openly because it was a difficult time, but I also felt fortunate that I was able to continue playing, so I’ve never really wanted sympathy.
“When new players see the scar on my chest there’s always a big reaction straight away. I was so fortunate; I was out for like 3 to 4 months and have never had a problem since.
“I see people in football who have knee operations or ankle operations, or broken legs, that are out for a lot longer. Of course, when you do your knee it’s not life threatening, the risk of mine, well I was obviously going to die."
A routine cardiac screening showed Goldson had an enlarged aorta heart valve, which could have proved fatal if left untreated. Specialists consider surgery when the aorta route is 50mm diameter and Goldson's was at 49mm in his first scan and at 50mm during the second.
He said: “Basically, if I wanted play football, I had to have it done, there was no ifs or buts. I could have stopped playing right then, and it was my decision, but if I wanted to continue playing, I had to get it done.
"Nothing else mattered and all I really cared about was whether I could play football again. The surgeon said they had to fit a stent because it could have popped at any point.”
Just four months after his surgery, Goldson was back playing football and he joined Brighton's pre-season camp in July. The defender has since won the Premiership, Scottish Cup and League Cup with Rangers and was key in their Europa League run to the final in Seville in the 2021/22 season.
During his chat, he got out his mobile phone and showed everyone a graphic picture of his heart in his wide-open chest during the surgery six years ago. Goldson has been left with a large scar on his chest but he has embraced his wound by getting a tattoo written across it with the message 'Chase Your Dreams'.
The now 31-year-old has been able to channel his horrendous ordeal into something positive and he's now made it his mission to spread awareness through his own personal story.
But while Goldson says he still loves the game, his main focus is now on his family. He added: "I got married and now I have two children, and they are the highlights for me.
"Looking back, football was my priority and I still love the game and I love what I do and want to continue doing it for many years, but now that I have a family and children, they are the most important things."
Goldson even has the heart rates of both of his children - Caleb and Connor - tattooed on each wrist from the baby scans before they were born. The defender kisses both wrists and wedding finger, which his anniversary date inked on, before he walks onto the pitch in every match.
He said: "It reflects what I’ve been through, and they mean everything to me. Instead of having their names, their heart rate seems a lot more appropriate."
The Rangers Charity Foundation have raised £25,000 for the British Heart Foundation this season and Goldson has urged as many as possible to learn lifesaving CPR through the charity’s free online training tool, RevivR.
He continued: "The BHF do an amazing job and I’m happy to help in any way We live in a world where nobody really does anything until it happens to you.
"It’s only when it happens to yourself or someone you know, then you realise the importance of CPR. I can do CPR, maybe not perfectly but I know what to do."