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I noticed Nacho Novo struggling but his heart problems were a huge shock for us all, says ex Rangers star


By Graham Luney

Former Rangers midfielder Derek Ferguson last night said he was in 'shock' after his good pal Nacho Novo suffered a heart attack.

The Gers legend was rushed to hospital in Germany after suffering chest pains and he is now in a stable condition following heart surgery.

Ferguson, who was with the Spaniard at the AOK Traditionsmasters five-a-side tournament in Berlin where Novo fell ill, admitted: "We're still in a bit of shock.

"Sometimes you think you're invincible as a player, even when you get older as we play lots of these things, so it was shocking to hear that Nacho, at 38, had gone through a heart procedure. What we also found out is that his mother actually died from a heart attack at the age of 43.

"It was strange getting on the plane a man down, and I think they expect him to be in the hospital for a week."

Novo had a potentially fatal blocked artery.

Ferguson added: “I noticed in the last five minutes he had come off and was leaning over the barrier.

“He had a bag of ice on the back of his neck and you could see he was struggling. I didn’t read too much into it because if you looked at a few other guys who were there, guys with good fitness, they were struggling at times as well, as was I. It was intense.

“We had just been put out of the tournament, we lost the two games, we were back in the dressing room feeling a little sorry for ourselves, then the physio who was with Nacho got the paramedics in.

“We thought he was going for a quick check-up and then would be back with the group. We got showered and went upstairs to where they were holding a function, expecting Nacho to come back.

“Then the news came through that Nacho had been rushed to hospital. John Brown, who was in charge of the team, had to go to the hospital. A few of us sat together, I couldn’t stop thinking about Nacho and we were all just sitting waiting on news.

“I was shocked to hear the next morning that he had undergone a procedure, and I don’t know too much about it, but we knew they were trying to get cardiologists to the hospital.”

On Sunday, Novo’s girlfriend Stephanie Healey wrote on Facebook: “Hi everyone, I’m absolutely exhausted and with Nacho.

“I appreciate all the messages but I can’t answer every one, sorry. Nacho is stable and speaking to me and hopefully will be home soon. And thank you.”

His former agent Bill Peden said last night: "He is stable and comfortable and would like to thank everyone for their kind messages of support."

A spokesman for Novo's new bar close to Ibrox, the NN10 Bar and Lounge, said: "He's in amazing hands in Germany, the doctors are taking good care of him."

Glentoran and Rangers were among the striker’s former clubs who tweeted messages of support to the Spaniard.

It also emerged that Novo made an emotional phone call to his seven-year-old son Javier as he was being rushed into the ­operating theatre.

His estranged wife Donna said: “Nacho called at around half past nine on Saturday night to tell me what had happened.

“He was obviously very upset and anxious but he wanted to speak to Javier just to tell him that he loved him.

“He didn’t tell Javier what was going on or that he was about to go in for surgery. I think he just wanted to hear his voice.”

Novo netted 73 goals in 255 appearances for Rangers during a six-year stint from 2004 to 2010 and became a fans’ favourite during his time at Ibrox.

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