DOCTORS believe that ex-Claret Gary Parkinson is suffering from a rare and potentially deadly condition following his massive stroke two weeks ago.
The 42-year-old’s family have been informed he is suffering from locked-in syndrome, where a patient is aware and awake but, due to almost complete paralysis of their muscles, cannot move or communicate apart from with their eyes.
Only a handful of people are known to have recovered from the syndrome.
But his wife Debbie has refused to give up the fight, according to Ian Holloway, manager of Blackpool FC where Gary is head of youth.
The news has emerged as two of his former clubs, Burnley and Bolton Wanderers, prepare to face each other in the Carling Cup third round at Turf Moor tonight.
Mr Holloway said: “Gary has had a terrible stroke and they (the doctors) haven’t given him much hope.
“I’ve had illnesses and bereavements before, but not like this, not where someone is actually trapped in a body that is relatively healthy and they can’t get the messages through.
The doctors can’t really do much more and there are only two people who have ever really got over a stroke this severe.
"But his wife Debbie is absolutely fantastic. I am amazed at the strength of the lady.
“She believes he is there and wants to try and get him out and get him back home.
She is saying ‘if two people have done it before, why can’t Gary?’”
Gary, who scored Burnley’s winning goal in the Division Two play-off final at Wembley in 1994, is being treated at Royal Bolton Hospital, after earlier being transferred from Salford Royal Hospital.
The Blackpool boss said everyone was supporting Debbie and the couple’s three children.
He said: “Gary is a very fit man. His body is still very fit. Unfortunately, his brain is not.
We have got to help his family as much as we can.
As long as there is hope, as long as someone has come back before, then hopefully Gary can.
But it’s a shock to everybody. He is only 42.
“I’ve tried to keep filling the players in on any news. I had a chat with them yesterday.”
Dr Tom Smith, Lancashire Telegraph health expert, said: “The problem is you can understand and see and hear what is going on, but you can’t communicate.
You’re unable to move, or speak, but you are conscious.
“It is horrifying to suffer from. It is truly a worst nightmare.
“There is no treatment that can be given, you just have to keep them alive by feeding them and looking after them and just hope some recovery starts.
"It is just a case of hoping.”
Alan Beecroft, of the Colne Clarets supporters’ group, said his thoughts, along with those of other fans, were with Gary’s family.
He said: “It is so sad for his family. Everybody is thinking of him and his wife, children and family.
"It must be horrendous for them to go through. It is devastating.
"Burnley fans have some great memories of Gary and it is awful to think of him this way.”
Jamie Hoyland, now a youth coach at Preston North End, played with Gary for three years. He went to see Gary last Tuesday.
He said: “You knew he could hear what I was saying and his eyes were reacting.
“You just try and get a bit of humour and get him stimulated.
“It is sad, but he is still fighting in there.
"Everybody I speak to from the game who knew him is always asking about him.
"It shows how well Gary is thought of.
“I’m just keeping my fingers crossed and praying for a miracle.”