Leeds ‘medical miracle’ footballer recovering after horror tackle

Jamie Underdown.
Jamie Underdown.
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Left writhing in pain, the crunch of the horrific tackle that threatened his sporting passion has haunted him for the last six months.

Doctors told semi-professional footballer Jamie Underdown, from Morley, that it was unlikely he would ever play on the pitch again and he faced the prospect of at least the next year in a wheelchair.

The 20-year-old ex-Bradford City academy star damaged three of the four ligaments in his knee - and dislocated his kneecap - following the tackle while playing for Thackley AFC in a match against Hemsworth Miners Welfare on November 11.

Read more: Leeds football ace ‘may never play again’
But in a remarkable twist, and after undergoing a second operation to repair his knee earlier this year, consultants have told him they are baffled by the speed of his recovery and hailed the young footballer as a “medical miracle”.

His mum, Sarah Underdown, said it means there is now a possibility that Jamie will not only walk again in the future, but he could be back on the pitch playing the sport he loves.

Miss Underdown, 43, told the YEP: “The exact words of the doctors before his second operation were, ‘Jamie, this is a serious injury and you will be very lucky to walk without pain again and if you ever play football it won’t be the same standard.’

“And now they are saying that might be possible. The consultants are baffled.

“With the severity of his injuries, his anterior cruciate ligament was severed down to the bone and there was nothing there, no blood supply.

“After the second operation they basically said he was a medical miracle.”

Following months of physiotherapy, the procedure also means Jamie has been able to swap the wheelchair for crutches.

Jamie said: “It has been very overwhelming and emotional because obviously I had been told that it was a total write-off and I would never be able to play again.

“Now I have been told that there’s a small chance I could do what I want to do again in the future.

“My life has is upside down - with positivity and happiness.

“The injury killed me. I shut myself away.

“It’s the worst I have ever felt in my life.”

His mum said that while Jamie’s mood had plummeted since the injury, the latest news has given him a new lease of life.

“Before this it has been hard, to the point where he has been seeing a counsellor because his mood has been so low,” the mum-of-three said.

“He has now bought a pair of football boots that sit on the side of his bed and he looks at those every morning. We are taking each day as it comes but he is such a different person and he is more determined than ever now.”

With limited mobility, Jamie was also forced to give up a job at Flannels, in Leeds.

But it was the prospect of being away from the pitch that really hit home.

“Football is his life,” Miss Underdown said. “If he wasn’t training he was playing football. And if he wasn’t playing he was watching. It was his whole world and he felt like that had been ripped away from him.”

Meanwhile, Miss Underdown described the care he received in hospital as “outstanding”.

The praise for the NHS doctors comes as the YEP is now showcasing the vital work the region’s healthcare staff carry out, as part of our We Love Our NHS campaign.

Miss Underdown added: “The surgeon that he had was absolutely amazing.

“The care he received from the beginning to today has just been outstanding.”

His family hopes he could be back on the pitch next year.

The community has rallied in response to Jamie’s injuries, and a charity football match is being organised to raise money to pay for a new assisted weights bench, to help with his physiotherapy.

Wilsden and Thornton Bantams will take on AFA Charity FC, in a special fixture featuring fans, ex-professional and TV soap players.

It takes place at Dixons Allerton Academy in Bradford, on April 22, from 3pm.

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