Boston United boss Graham Drury has paid tribute to his number two Paul Holden, who suffered a heart attack and ‘died twice’ on Christmas Day.
Thankfully, medics revived the former Army PT, who was on the phone to Drury on Boxing day morning, eagerly discussing tactics ahead of the 1-1 draw with Corby.
“I spoke to Paul, the man’s incredible,” said Drury after the stalemate with their former club.
Reliving the incident, the Boston boss added: “He was at home on his own and he was lighting the fire, he’d just done a bit of house cleaning, which I can’t believe really, and he went to light the fire and he just collapsed.”
From then on, Holden began a remarkable fight for survival, which included having to drive himself to the outskirts of his village just to get a phone signal to call for help.
“He’s only just moved there, he’s got no home telephone and he can’t get a signal on his mobile,” Drury said.
“This is where the army training must come in.
“He had to get to his car to get out of the village to get to his car where he rang the ambulance.
“He’s done remarkable to be here as he’s passed away twice in the ambulance.”
However, Holden managed to recover, so much so that his mind was soon on football once more.
“Football sometimes goes on the backburner,” Drury continued.
“But that’s not Paul, he rang me (on Boxing Day morning) and said ‘have you got the set plays sorted because I’ve got them (the plans) in my car?’
“He’s just had a stent put in a major artery and he’s ringing me to ask that.
“That’s the man, that’s what he is.”
Holden – a former Director of Football for the Gibraltar FA and academy boss at Crystal Palace – has been Drury’s right-hand man for five years.
So taking charge of his first Pilgrims match without Holden was a blow to the new manager.
However, he still had time to poke fun at his pal.
When asked if he would miss Holden – who will be unable to work with the Pilgrims for the next month – Drury responded: “I taught him all he knows.
“It’s sad not to have anyone alongside me, but in three weeks he’ll be there.
“We’ve worked closely over five years.”
Conditioning coach Dean West was with Drury in the dug-out on Boxing Day, when Marc Newsham’s put Boston in front.
However, Sam Ives drew Corby level three minutes later.
Youth team supremo Steve Welsh will now fill in for Holden until he returns.