A FOOTBALL coach who was told he had a year to live after being struck down with a heart condition is recovering after a life-saving transplant.

Joe Jackson, aged 23, from Harwood, is now urging people to sign the organ donor register and help save lives.

The boxing lover, who played as a defender for Turton Football Club and as a community coach for Bolton Wanderers Community Trust, only realised he suffered from a hereditary heart condition when he was admitted to hospital in October with palpitations.

Doctors diagnosed him with cardiomyopathy, and after almost two months of tests and treatment Mr Jackson was told without a heart transplant he was unlikely to live a year.

He was on the transplant list for six weeks before an organ was found, and is now recovering at home in Croft Gate after undergoing a gruelling nine hour operation on January 26.

Throughout his treatment he was inundated with messages of support from Wanderers stalwarts, with footballers Kevin Davies and Tony Kelly visiting him in hospital and Fabrice Muamba — who suffered a heart attack while playing for the Whites in 2012 — emailing him to offer his encouragement.

‘Big Sam’ — former Whites footballer Sam Allardyce — has also invited him to watch West Ham when he is well enough, and boxer Kieran Farrell paid a visit to his bedside.

The part-time football coach,who also works in Asda in Astley Bridge, said: “It was overwhelming getting that support and it really helped. I don’t think I would have been so positive without it.

“My diagnosis was all such a shock. I was young and fit, doing my boxing and my running, then all of it happened.

“I kept thinking positively. I never wanted to think about what would happen if I didn’t get a transplant.

“Fabrice Muamba emailed my girlfriend, Ashley Gundlach, and he said you’ve got to keep thinking ‘the glass is half full’, and keep your support around you.

“The team at Wythenshawe hospital were amazing. They saved my life, and my mum, dad and girlfriend visited me every day. My girlfriend was my rock.

“Now I’ve got to learn how to build your muscles back up. Now I just want to get back to normal.”

Mr Jackson said he would like to meet the family of the organ donor who helped save his life.

He said: “I don’t know anything about them but I would like to meet them, although I think it’s too early for them now.

“That person is a part of my life now.”

Bolton Wanderers has now teamed up with NHS Organ Donor Register to urge people to pledge to donate their organs when they die.

You can sign the register by visiting www.organdonation.nhs.uk or calling 0300 123 23 23, and people are asked to tell their families about their wishes.