Lucan native Sean Russell faces a battle to save his football career as he seeks a second surgery to correct a multiple knee ligament fracture.
The 25-year-old sustained the horrific injury while playing for his club Limerick in the First Division but had to fund it himself.
While League of Ireland clubs are not required to have insurance to cover players’ medical bills, they are required to compensate any amateur player who sustains an injury.
In Russell’s case, he claims he was under the impression he was adequately insured but has now been left in limbo with his career and continued health on the line.
“I had one surgery, which had to be done immediately as there were a lot of concerns with the leg,” he told the Dublin Gazette.
“And the bills from that surgery had bounced from the club and been billed to me. I was due to get a second surgery a month later, which would have been in April, and I’m still awaiting that surgery. There were outstanding bills from that surgery.
“I’m fortunate that the Limerick Supporters’ Trust Fund, LIFT, came on board and offered to pay that bill for me, which was an amazing gesture.
“At the moment, I’m left with getting my second surgery done before I stand any chance of playing football again.”
Russell had to take two months off work, unpaid, following his injury and likely will need to do so again if he finds the money for the second surgery.
He has had to move back to Dublin from Limerick and quit his job in order to be closer to his family, while a crowd-funding page has been set up to help pay for his second surgery.
Aside from the financial aspect, the mental stress on him has been considerable as he doesn’t know if he will ever again play the sport to which he’s dedicated his life.
“It has affected my life big time. I was living in Limerick, and I was working a full-time job that I’d just started in pre-season.
“I wasn’t a pro so I needed to work a full-time job. I was on six months probation there and I missed two months of work with the injury, so I lost out on pay.
“Halfway through the job I had to move back to Dublin because, mentally, it took its toll on me. It wasn’t the right environment to be in and I had to come back and be around my family.”
The players’ football association, the PFAI, have assisted him in an unofficial capacity but are unable to intervene as he’s not a professional.
“I went out on to the pitch assuming I was insured. I was told by the club when I was in the surgery clinic that I was insured. I have had contact with the FAI over the last five months when they said they would intervene if Limerick didn’t look after the medical bills.
“They haven’t intervened, and when we have looked for answers, they’ve just told us that it’s been between me and the club. That’s where it’s at, at the moment.”
Sean’s Gofundme page is here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/sean-russell-medical-costs.