Teammate Lee Kang-In on the verge of death, starts PSG comeback

Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) goalkeeper Sergio Rico, who was in a coma after suffering a head injury in a horseback riding accident, is preparing to return to action nearly seven months after the accident.

“PSG goalkeeper Rico is in a coma and has lost 20 kilograms but is preparing to make a comeback,” the UK’s The Sun reported on Friday (Aug. 15), “revealing a stunning plan to return to PSG seven months after a horseback riding accident nearly took his life.

According to the outlet, Rico recently told Spain’s Radio Copa: “I feel good now. I hope the doctors will give me a little more freedom,” he said, adding with a smile, “I want to return to my daily routine and I feel like I can be a soccer player again.”

The Spanish goalkeeper has been playing for PSG since 2019 and is an accomplished goalkeeper who has also played for the Spanish national team. Although he’s been a backup at PSG behind the likes of Gianluigi Buffon and Keylor Navas, he’s been able to fill the role of backup goalkeeper every time he’s played. In 24 appearances for PSG, he has kept 14 clean sheets.

In the 2021/22 season, he was loaned to Mallorca, Spain, where he played alongside Lee Kang-in. He was loaned back to Mallorca in the second half of the season, where he kept the back four in 14 league games. He returned to PSG ahead of the 2022/23 season and was reunited with Lee when he joined the club last summer.

However, the two have yet to play together in real life. That’s because Rico suffered a head injury in a horseback riding accident in May that left him in a coma.

On May 28, the day before the final league game of last season, Rico fell off his horse while visiting a fair with his family in El Rocio, part of Spain’s Andalusia region.

After hitting his head on the ground, Rico was also struck by the horse’s leg and suffered injuries so severe that he had to be airlifted to the hospital by helicopter. He underwent skull trauma and a feeding tube, never regained consciousness and remained in a coma for 26 days.

At the time, Sky Sports detailed the incident, saying, “Rico was on his way to the fair when he fell off his horse, which became agitated and kicked him in the head with its legs.”

“We would like to thank everyone for their love, support and concern for Rico’s condition,” said his wife and family, adding, “Rico is receiving treatment and is fighting for his recovery. The next 48 hours are critical.”

PSG teammates wore Rico’s jersey for the final league game against Clermont. Fans also wished Rico a speedy recovery by hanging a large banner with his jersey in the stands.

Kylian Mbappe held up Rico’s jersey after scoring against Clermont to wish his teammate a speedy recovery, and the Spanish La Liga, where Rico played before joining PSG, also sent messages of support.

As his coma lengthened, Rico’s wife posted on social media, “Don’t leave me alone. I can’t live without you. I’m waiting for you. I love you so much.”, much to the chagrin of many. Luckily, Rico miraculously opened his eyes after three weeks and returned to his family safely.

But he still needs more time to play soccer.

Still in the hospital, Rico hasn’t been able to return to the team. “I lost 20 kilograms after the injury. I was around 92 kilograms, and when I came out of the coma, I was at 73 kilograms. Now I’m down to 88 kilograms,” he said, adding, “I’m calmly accepting the situation. It’s not up to me. If it was, I would already be training. I am absolutely following the instructions of my doctors and the doctors who saved my life,” he said, adding that he is committed to his recovery.

“I want to get back to my normal routine, I want to feel like a soccer player again,” he said, vowing to get back on the field as soon as possible. It will be interesting to see if Rico will be able to share the field with Lee again.

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