Everton's Shane Duffy Almost Dies After a Freak Accident on Ireland Duty
18-year-old Everton defender Shane Duffy almost died in an Ireland developmental squad practice match on Friday night after his liver was lacerated following an innocuous clash with goalkeeper Adrian Walsh.
The friendly was put together to allow Giovani Trappatoni time to assess his newest members of the squad before Ireland take on Algeria and Paraguay next week.
What makes the accident even harder to bear is that Duffy has yet to receive his papers which would allow the Everton youngster to play for Ireland following a massive diplomatic row between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Following the "Good Friday Agreement" in 1999, it was deemed that a person born anywhere on the island of Ireland could choose their country of origin and citizenship.
Duffy, a prodigious footballer, grew up in Northern Ireland and has even represented the country at Under 21 level.
Nigel Worthington then went one step further by including the defender in one of the senior squads foe experience, but was shell-shocked when Duffy told him he wanted to play for the "South."
The youngsters controversial decision has rocked Northern Ireland football to it's very core and has forced the Irish Football Association (IFA) to take the unusual step of going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in a bid to stop the drain on its players to the Republic.
The CAS are expected to come back with a decision this week, but early reports indicate that they cannot interfere in political decisions. Last year Darron Gibso of Manchester United fame elected to play for the "South" after being born in the "North."
Whilst Duffy awaits the ruling, Trappatoni selected him for the friendly against Ireland's amateur side. In the 35th minute, he challenged the 'keeper for the ball, but Walsh's knee caught him in the midriff and the defender went down in agony.
Unbeknownst to anyone in attendance, the Everton player was mere seconds from death.
The FAI team surgeon, John O'Byrne, and the team doctor, Alan Byrne, treated the stricken youth on the side of the pitch before he was rushed to Dublin's Mater Hospital for surgery.
"Shane sustained a laceration to his liver and was rushed to the Mater Hospital for emergency surgery," said O'Byrne yesterday. "Gerry McEntee and the intensive care staff in the Mater must be credited for their expertise and fast response which in no uncertain terms saved Shane's life.
"Shane was stabilised in intensive care after the surgery which stopped internal bleeding and this morning is conscious and is in the care of the Mater's high dependency unit having improved overnight." O'Byrne added, "Shane collided with a player in a way that you would see thousands of times in football matches. It was a freak injury that in another 100 years of medicine, we may never see again."
Duffy lost consciousness shortly after arriving at the Hospital and was resuscitated by the emergency crash team before he was brought into theatre for the life-saving emergency operation. He had lost almost 3.6 litres of blood, almost half the blood in his body.
He now faces an anxious wait to see if he can ever return to football action again.
A committee from Everton including their medical team travelled to Dublin yesterday to assess Duffy's condition and to discuss the implications of the operation on his career, which could be over.
A visibly shaken Trappatoni stayed at the hospital with Duffy's parents while they awaited the results of the operation, and the emotional manager had this to say, "I thought about his family and I thought about his dream," he said yesterday. "I was so relieved when the doctors said that he was going to be okay."
Shane Duffy is rated highly in playing circles in England. David Moyes has seen enough in the youngster to promote him towards the first team after less that one year at the club, where he made his debut in the Europa League against AEK Athens.
He is definitely one for the future, thus the tug of war between the FAI and the IFA for his services. This is probably what prompted Trappatoni to include him in these end of season friendly squads, even though he cannot play.
Through one freak accident and a twist of fate, his career now hangs in the balance, although early reports suggest that he should return to training sometime around next Christmas if his recovery is a good one.
Hopefully he will make a full recovery, regardless of which country he goes on to represent.