Sinan Bytyqi a young Manchester City prospect was doing rather well after being forced to flee for his life as an infant along with his mother and father from the battlefield that his homeland of Kosovo had become.
Bytyqi was really starting to develop on-loan in Holland with Cambuur where he was starting to catch the eye of Pep Guardiola and when he was last at the Etihad the City manager encouraged the player to keep doing what he was doing when joining new loan team Go Ahead Eagles and that the City brass were keeping a close eye on his progress.
Bytyqi was starting to dream of the big time before he was called into the office in Holland to be told that some irregularity had been found during his annual physical in Manchester.
Sinan Bytyqi was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which was subsequently confirmed by a second opinion from another cardiologist. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a disease where a part of the heart muscle is enlarged, which leads to functional impairment of the heart. The condition is also the leading reason behind sudden cardiac death in young athletes.
As the Daily Mail reported, Bytyqi recalled ‘They said if I continued playing I would have a four per cent chance of my heart stopping and that if I stopped, that would be one per cent’.
After eventually ending up in Austria following his family finally getting out of Kosovo he took the chance and moved to Vienna at 14 years of age saying,
“All I ever wanted to do was play football,’
‘It was tough, being three hours from home, but if you want something you have to sacrifice things.’
The now young Austrian player was playing for Austria’s Under 19s when he was spotted by City scouts, who made their move to bring him to Manchester City. Following a slow start, under the watchful eye of Patrick Vieira as coach of City’s Elite Development Squad, he started to truly develop his talent.
Speaking about Vieira, the starlet said, ‘Patrick was unbelievable,’
‘It was tough when I first got here but he made a massive difference. Little things. He saw some players waiting for a taxi once after training and took them home himself. When my family came over he took us all out for dinner to an Italian in town.’
His first stint in Holland was cut short by an 8 month injury lay-off due to a knee problem but he returned to Holland to play for Go Ahead Eagles before his world came crashing in as the diagnosis of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy was discovered.
City director of football Txiki Begiristain, offered the club’s full support and let the starlet figure out his next move before Fergal Harkin, City’s scouting manager offered him a role as a scout for the club.
When speaking about the way City chose to handle his illness he said, ‘Maybe two out of 10 clubs would keep you,’
‘I have to thank them for giving me a chance. For me the best job in the world is getting paid to play football and the second best is getting paid to watch it.’
‘I am very lucky.’
Manchester City stood by their man in his time of need and now Sinan Bytyqi has a career in football which he always dreamed of only now he watches the games rather than plays in them.