Sheffield Wednesday ladies’ first team goalkeeper Emily Darwin narrowly escaped being paralysed when she suffered a spinal injury during a match and had to be airlifted to the hospital.
Emily, aged 20, was accidentaly kneed in the neck after 50 minutes of a game against Rotherham United in Goldthorpe.
“I just kept saying, ‘My neck hurts’, and I couldn’t move my legs. It was so scary.”
She was flown by helicopter to the Northern General Hospital where the diagnosis with ‘spinal shock’.
“It happens when the nerves in your neck stop working so your spine shuts down. They told me they didn’t know how long it would take for me to recover, or how much strength I would get back, if anything.”
Emily spent two days wearing a collar, undergoing physiotherapy and being fed by hospital staff, before regaining a little movement. She can now walk up and down stairs, but doctors say it will be months before she can play football.
“They say I’ve got to be confident when I play, otherwise I could end up getting hurt again,” added Emily, who lives with mum Joanne, 49, and dad Sam, 59, in Stannington. “I’m hoping it will be soon but I don’t want to put a time on it.
“Everyone has treated me really well. The doctors have been very reassuring and I’ve had so many messages from other players, even the opposing team.
“I just love playing football - I’ve been doing it since I was seven and get so much out of it.”
Her accident is due to featured in an upcoming series of the BBC’s Helicopter Heroes, about the day-to-day work of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
A support worker with disabled people, Emily said: “It could have been much worse.”
And she recalled: “They broke the match for an hour and then carried on, but no-one really wanted to!”