Footballer’s diabetes trauma turned into film

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Former footballer Jon-Sel Gourkan, front, pictured with actors and film crew members during filming at the Arden Garages Stadium in Tiddington last Sunday. Photo: Mark Williamson S9710/19/9862

A STRATFORD actor who was registered with Stratford Town FC as a youngster and played professional football in Turkey is in the final stages of filming the story of his life as a sportsman battling type 1 diabetes.

The condition cost Jon-Sel Gourkan, aged 41, his career playing football for Turkish clubside Altay who sacked him when he suffered a hypoglycaemic attack before a home game in the club’s dressing room.

“When I suffer an attack I start swearing and eventually pass out. I did this in Turkey and the club coach thought I was drunk before a game so the chairman sacked me a week a later. I didn’t tell the club I was diabetic because I didn’t want them to think I was unhealthy and I’d just impressed with my trial at the club by scoring a hat trick. This film tells my life story and how important it is to raise awareness about diabetes,” Jon-Sel said.

Hypo is the true film about Jon-Sel’s experience as a 17-year-old soccer star who was on Stratford Town’s books as a six-year-old and was also a child actor with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Since his football career ended – which saw him achieve best new comer at Bobby Charlton Soccer School in his early teens – Jon-Sel has returned to his first love – acting.

“The importance of Hypo is it helps cleanse my soul and is a release for me. Diabetes has caused me to lose jobs and be made homeless because people don’t know what it’s about. We are trying to raise awareness about the condition. We have filmed several scenes in Stratford and the one where I pass out in the dressing room at Stratford Town Football Club was very emotional for me because that took me back to what happened in Turkey,” Jon-Sel said.

Other Stratford locations are The Welcombe Hotel and The Dirty Duck.

The cast and crew for Hypo includes director Jordan Robinson, Patrick Robinson of Casualty and The Bill who plays the football coach, Marcus Griffiths also from Casualty who plays Jon-Sel’s best friend and ex-Tottenham footballer, Gary Mabbutt a fellow type 1 diabetic who has agreed to make an appearance.

The film should be completed soon and will premiere at Diabetes UK in London. Jon-Sel says he also wants to host a special screening in Stratford before the end of the year.