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Featured Image Credit: Image: beIN Sports
Galatasaray defender Omar Elabdellaoui has defied doctor's expectations to make a miraculous footballing comeback after going clinically blind.
On New Year's Eve 2020, the Norwegian international was rushed into hospital after a firework exploded in his hands.
The 30-year-old suffered a serious injury and it was feared that he would lose his sight permanently.
In fact, one of the doctors that Elabdellaoui was referred to, at the Cincinnati Eye Institute, said it was one of the worst injuries he had ever seen in 35 years in the field.
He also gave the former Manchester City youngster a mere 5-10% chance of regaining his sight. So if there wasn't much hope for him seeing again, there was no way on earth he was ever going to return to the pitch. Or was there?
After 11 surgeries on his eye in the United States and over a year since the accident, the former Olympiacos man has done the unthinkable.
🧿 Omar Elabdellaoui, 423 gün sonra ilk kez forma giyecek. pic.twitter.com/s7OpMdVKfE— Cimbom Facts (@CimbomFacts) February 21, 2022
He was on the bench for Galatasaray against Kayserispor and on Monday night, he finally made his comeback in a thrilling 3-2 win over Goztepe.
Former Swansea City striker Bafetimbi Gomis scored two late penalties to seal the win for Domenic Torrent's side but all the focus was quite rightly on the return of Elabdellaoui.
423 days after his last appearance, he played the full 90 minutes with specialist glasses similar to what we were accustomed to seeing Dutch legend Edgar Davids wear back in the day.
And understandably it was a particularly emotional affair for him.
“I would like to thank my family, my manager, my children and Fatih Terim for helping me,” Elabdellaoui said afterwards in an interview with beIN Sports, via Goal.
“I went through a difficult process. It was a difficult injury. I struggled a lot. I’m back on the field and doing what I love most. It’s my dream come true for the second time. It felt like I started football for the second time.”
Elabdellaoui, who also played for Hull City, was hailed by one doctor as "the most motivated patient" he had come across despite such a tough time.
Remarkably, it was even said that what he experienced was four times worse than an American soldier who was blinded in a blast while serving in Afghanistan.
Elabdellaoui admitted in an interview with The Guardian that he "was always checking if the light was there because I was afraid of losing it".
But his sister was a perfect match and was able to provide ocular stem cells which led to a successful transplant that eventually restored his vision.
Elabdellaoui has to take eye drops every half an hour except for when partaking in physical activity but he can still do the thing he loves: play football.