|Fighting back: Nguyen Anh Hung of Hai Phong (right) seen during his team's match against Hoang Anh Gia Lai on January 21. — Photo baogialai.com.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — It seemed that defender Nguyen Anh Hung would have to say goodbye to his football career following an horrific injury.
However, the 23-year-old player fought back, and is now shining for LG Hai Phong in this year's Toyota V-League 1.
"Hung is small, but he has a fierce desire. He always puts his whole heart into the game," said Hai Phong coach Truong Viet Hoang.
Hoang said that Hung has been outstanding this year, and helped Hai Phong to form a solid back line in the country's top league. With four wins, one draw and one loss, the team are ranked third out of 14 teams.
Overcoming a nightmare
Nghe An-born Hung helped An Giang to a third place finish in the National First Division Football Championships in 2013.
He played 13 out of 14 matches that year, and his team was promoted to the V-League.
However, Hung was seriously injured during a match against V-League 1 side Song Lam Nghe An (SLNA) on February 26 last year.
SLNA's Tran Dinh Dong landed a sickening tackle on Hung that broke his leg. Dong received the toughest penalty in the history of the league, with a record 28-game suspension and a VND20 million ($950) fine from the country's football federation.
"Before the match, I was feeling nervous, and then I broke my leg. I still can't forget that moment. I nearly passed out on the pitch," Hung recalled.
Hung felt desperate when doctors told him to retire from the sport, but he used that to overcome adversity and play again.
After a period of treatment at Nghe An Hospital, he drove to Ha Noi by himself to continue his recovery at the Viet Nam Sports Hospital. Come rain or shine, Hung attended physiotherapy twice a day, and to make the most of his training, he rented a room near the hospital.
Within seven months he had made a miraculous recovery, thanks to his hard work and love for the game.
"I completed my recovery last September, but I wasn't sure I'd have a club to play for. An Giang paid me during my treatment, so I wanted to go back and repay them on the field when I was fit again. However, An Giang were relegated to the first division last year, and the team was dissolved. I had no offers from other teams either, so I returned home to live with my mother," said Hung.
"Then I got a glimmer of hope last October. I received a phone call from Hai Phong chairman Tran Manh Hung, who invited me to trial for his club.
"I couldn't believe it. He said the club wanted to sign me, so I continued my training until I made a complete recovery," he said.
The chairman knew about the defender through the national U21 football championships that took place in Hai Phong in 2012, when Hung was captain of SLNA's U21s.
"He saved my life," said Hung.
The northern port city team signed a two-year contract with Hung, completing his comeback from injury.
"Thanks to the chairman, my dream of playing football again has come true," said the youngster. — VNS