By Hollie Bone
A footballer described as a ‘walking miracle’ after surviving a horror car crash which left him with a brain damage won’t stop playing the sport he loves – even though one bump to the head could now be ‘catastrophic’.
Will Fraser-Gray, 20, was heading home after a night out celebrating a friend’s 21st birthday in Georgia, USA, where he studies, in March, when the car crashed while he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, leaving him with a major head injury, broken ribs, a fractured neck and a punctured lung.
The young player, from Galgate, Lancs, had been so talented on the field he had won a scholarship to play at Emmanuel College in Georgia, but the smash threatened to steal his dreams of a professional football career as he was left hospitalised for months and forced to learn how to walk again.
But after making a miracle recovery in the US and returning home to reunite with family last month, Will has now flown back across the pond to carry on playing the game – despite the risks and needing a special helmet to protect his head, which has still not fully healed.
He said: “After the crash, I woke up a week and 10 days later and I remember looking over and seeing my mum and dad and quickly realising it must be bad if they’d had to fly out.
“The doctors had taken half my skull out to relieve the pressure on my brain, I had a fracture and a ruptured ligament in my neck, a punctured lung, broken ribs, a lacerated liver and damaged spleen.
“They told me I’d never be able to play football again without protective head gear, but as soon as I heard I could even play again it motivated me so much.
“Football is pretty much my life, I don’t even entertain the idea that somebody would be able to take that ability away from me.
“I was in a pretty horrific crash, but hearing the doctors say I was going to be able to play again was the best thing in the world.
“It’s about proving people wrong.
“I’ll need to wear a special helmet all the time when I’m playing because if I did get a knock to the head it would probably be catastrophic, especially while the skull hasn’t fully healed as I can’t have any contact.
“Even in the long run, I am now more susceptible to severe concussion.”
After the crash, Will was taken straight to Piedmont Hospital in Athens, Georgia, but as he started to recover, he was transferred to special brain and spinal cord injury unit, The Shepherd Centre, in Atlanta.
Incredible video footage shows him relearning how to walk and even dribbling a football down the ward.
And despite not knowing what the long term effects of the brain injury are, the determined striker flies back out to Georgia to continue his scholarship today [JULY 31] – and can’t wait to get back on the pitch.
WIll said: “After 10 days I was fully cognitive again but I had to be lifted out of the bed because I was so weak and had to use a frame to be able to start walking again.
“At first I was frustrated but I met so many amazing people with different stories at the Shepherd Centre, and soon you realise no matter how bad you think you have it, somebody else has it much worse.
“I have been pushing myself every single day in the gym to get my fitness back because when I can play again next season I want to smash it and do my best.
“If I can come back from this and play football again, then what else can I achieve?”
It’s a scary prospect for Will’s mum, Amanda, 46, who received the call about her son’s incident on Mother’s Day, and flew out to the states not knowing if she would be ‘bringing him home in a box’.
She said: “As a mum you want to wrap them up in cotton wool but he’s 20, he’s got his life to live and really he has been given his life to live so if he wants to carry on playing football we have to let him and just pray that he will be OK.”