Stoke City: Robert Huth speaks of meningitis horror- and remarkable recovery
ROBERT Huth admitted he never expected to play at Reading after recovering from viral meningitis to help Stoke claim a 1-1 draw in Saturday's season-opener.
City had predicted the German centre-half would miss at least the first two weeks of the new season after being hospitalised with the potentially fatal disease.
• GALLERY: Match Action: Reading 1 Stoke City 1
But he answered Tony Pulis's emergency call after Matthew Upson was ruled out with a back problem.
Panasonic Store Camera•20x Optical Zoom LEICA DC Lens from 24mm...View details
What Digital camera Gold award winning DMCTZ40
SAVE £20 off our store price ONLY with this voucher
Plus you can also claim a SD card or spare battery
Choice of colours, free parking behind store
Terms: Print this voucher and hand in at Panasonic Store Hanley to save £20 off our store price ONLY £269.90
Contact: 01782 342609
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Huth, who was 28 on Saturday, contracted the virus during City's pre-season tour to the United States.
So he was relieved to get back to business with a typically impressive performance as Stoke were only denied a win when Michael Kightly's 34th-minute opener was cancelled out by Adam Le Fondre's 90th-minute penalty.
Huth, pictured below, said: "Apparently there has been a bug going around in the United States, and I didn't feel particularly great while we were out there.
"On the flight going home, I could feel it getting worse and worse – and 35,000ft up in the sky is not a great place to be when your health is going downhill rapidly.
"When we got home I had a couple of days off, but it wasn't getting any better. And when I had a stinking headache and became highly sensitive to light, the club booked me into hospital for tests – and they kept me in for four nights.
"I never gave up hope of being fit for the start of the season, but the odds were stacked against me. If Matt had been fit, I think he would have played instead of me.
"I've only trained twice properly since I came out of hospital, so I am pleased to get through the whole 90 minutes on one of the hottest days of the year."
Daniel Sturridge also contracted viral meningitis this summer, but the Chelsea striker, who is from Congleton, recovered in time to play for Great Britain at the Olympics.
Huth added: "When you travel around as much as clubs like Chelsea and Stoke, there is always a chance of picking up something nasty.
"I just thought I had jetlag after flying home from the States, but it turned out to be meningitis. I don't know too much about it, but I know it can kill in the worst cases.
"Luckily the club's medical staff reacted decisively, and the doctors in hospital were great.
"I spent most of the time asleep on drip feeds and wired up to equipment, and after three days I began to feel better.
"But I only came out of hospital last Monday. I went for a walk and felt a lot stronger. I was surprised how quickly I got over the worst of it, just as Daniel Sturridge managed to play in the Olympics only a couple of weeks after he went down with it."
Huth and skipper Ryan Shawcross rarely looked in trouble at the heart of City's defence before Dean Whitehead brought down Garath McCleary in the Stoke penalty area, earning the midfielder a second yellow card and giving Reading the equalising penalty.
Huth added: "I nearly had three points to celebrate on my birthday. There wasn't much in the game and it was a sickener to concede so late.
"The referee didn't have a great game. He booked three of our players for time-wasting when it was 90 degrees out there. We had asked him to make sure the players got plenty of fluids on board and recovery time."
Manager Tony Pulis paid tribute to Huth.
He said: "He was brilliant – not only by playing, but also in the heat. He was fantastic and it just shows what the kid is about.
"The lads have named him Lazarus."