New Zealand rugby player Michael Fatialofa has made an emotional return to the Worcester Warriors, five months after a severe spinal injury left fears the big lock would never walk again.
A beaming Fatialofa walked into his club unassisted and received cheers from his team mates. There was a large banner reading “Welcome Back Fats” spread across the entrance of the club’s high performance centre where the 27-year-old will continue his rehabilitation.
The club produced a video of the magic moment and it has gone viral with almost 200,000 views in less than 24 hours.
Fatialofa was driven to and from the club by flanker Matti Williams,and he spent almost two hours at Sixways doing walking exercises on the pitch.
His miracle recovery has proven inspirational as fellow Kiwi and Warriors halfback Jono Kitto, told The Telegraph: “What has inspired me and so many others was both his and Tatiana’s belief that things would get better,” said Kitto after re-uniting at the club.
“It was unbelievable [to have him back]; it was so good to see him again. The hope he has held throughout, which I think is a testament to why he has been able to get through his recovery the way he has.
“His mentality is a big part of where he is today. He has attacked it head on, while maintaining a positive mind-set.
“It was a weird day in January [when Fatialofa was injured]. It is something you never expect to be that bad. We have all been thinking about him and hoping and praying for his recovery.
“It is great for him, he is stoked to be back home and now at the next phase of his recovery.”
Fatialofa’s wife tweeted: “Make sure he comes home to me in one piece.”
Fatialofa, who played for Auckland and Southland and won a Super Rugby title with the Hurricanes before taking his game to Brtitain, spent four months in the Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital’s specialist spinal injuries unit, constantly amazing staff with his determination.