Relieved Julen Etxabeguren last night relived the horror moment he partially lost his eyesight – then thanked the surgeons who saved him.
The Dundee defender was the victim of an accident last month, when Motherwell striker Louis Moult stuck a finger in his eye during a league match at Dens Park.
The 24-year-old Spaniard required corrective surgery following the freak incident which sidelined him until he made his comeback as a substitute in Tuesday’s 3-1 Scottish Cup fourth round win over Falkirk.
Etxabeguren is now back in full health but admits he has been through some tough times.
He said: “My eye is getting better and the operation went fine.
“It was thought, when I first went to hospital after the game, that it was a scratch on my cornea and that it wasn’t that bad and I would be OK.
“But a few days later I couldn’t see right and went to hospital at Ninewells, where they did some tests. I had a tear in my retina. The doctor decided I needed an operation.
“I wasn’t blind in the eye but there was a risk of retinal detachment. That’s why I had surgery.
“It was a really strange injury and I was told it can happen in only one out of 2,000 cases.
“Normally you can get it if a ball hits you in the eye but not because of a finger in the eye.
“Now I am using contact lenses and my eyesight is getting better.
“Things are blurred when I use just the one eye but I can see properly with both eyes. In terms of seeing the ball, that’s fine. The doctors were very kind to me. All I can say is thank you to the surgeon and all the staff at the hospital who helped me.”
Etxabeguren knew there was something wrong when he could barely read the menu in a restaurant following the injury.
He added: “I struggled to read the menu and that’s when I realised there was a problem.
“I am still struggling to read newspapers, for example, but the doctor told me that the contact lenses will help with that.
“At the start it wasn’t scary but then you start thinking that you can’t do anything and have to cope with that. It was a sad and hard time for me.
“But once I spoke to the doctor I was happy because he told me I would be able to play football when it’s healed.”