Brian Wilkin: “I am lucky to have another day to live.” (Photo courtesy of the Lancers)

When the Rochester Lancers visited the Florida Tropics on Saturday night, they had to play the Major Arena Soccer League game without goalkeeper Brian Wilkin.

Wilkin was forced to miss the match after undergoing emergency surgery on Friday after a piece of chicken became lodged in his esophagus.

With Marcelo Moreira injured, that left Christian Esposito as the lone keeper and the team without reserve against the first-place Tropics (13-1).

A Nazareth College graduate, Wilkin said on the Kick This! radio show Saturday morning that he was eating chicken for lunch when the incident occurred.

“It was a kind of tougher piece of chicken and I didn’t chew it all the all way,” he said on the radio show. “It got stuck in my throat and I started choking on it. Luckily, I was right across from the athletic trainer’s office at my college and one of the trainers had to do the Heimlich maneuver on me to get it out.”

Wilkin, who hails from Hilton, N.Y., said he felt better, but that something was still was stuck in his esophagus. He tried several ways to move it down the digestive tract, including using sofa, hoping that the fizzy would break down the chicken or move it down.

“So, I was in pain,” Wilkin said. “My chest was hurting.”

So, Wilkin visited the hospital, where doctors needed to perform emergency surgery to get the chicken out of his throat.

He said he was “just a little sore” from surgery and that his chest was still a little heavy.

“Other than that, I am lucky to have another day to live,” Wilkin said.

Kick This! host Salvatore “SoccerSam” Fantauzzo, who also is the Lancers’ owner, told his goalkeeper: “Chew your food from now on. Slow down a little bit because we need you, not only on this team, but on this earth, man. Slow down and take care of yourself. We really appreciate your commitment to this Lancers team.”

Despite the Lancers’ winless season in their return to the MASL, Wilkin said that he has enjoyed playing with this team.

“It has been a lot different from outdoors,” he said. “Marcelo has been a big help these last few weekends. I’ve been learning from him. He’s a veteran goalkeeper, not only outdoor, but indoors, also. I’m excited. The journey’s been fun, and I hope to continue it.”