Australia World Cup goal hero Hayley Raso thought she would NEVER play again after breaking her back in horror injury | The Sun

HAYLEY RASO has continued to shine for Australia at this year's Women's World Cup.

But just five years ago, she thought her football career was over.

In August 2018, while playing for National Women's Soccer League side Portland Thorns, the winger suffered a traumatic back injury during a match against Washington Spirit.

The freak injury, caused by an accidental collision which saw the Washington goalkeeper's knee dig into her back, left Raso wondering if she'd ever be able to play football again.

Just two months after the incident, the Australia international told ABC: "I couldn't do anything at that moment, I was just in so much pain, I couldn't move my body.

"I can remember just saying: 'Help me, help me'. I knew that something bad had happened.

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"My athletic trainer came onto the field and she was asking me: 'Can you feel your legs, can you wiggle your toes?'

"I was just thinking, you know, I have been hit in the back and I know these injuries can be serious."

At the age of just 23, Raso feared that she would never walk or play sport again.

But in the days that followed the horrific ordeal – which saw her break three vertebrae – she received positive news from doctors.

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She added: "A neurosurgeon came in and spoke to me and said: 'You will recover from this, it's going to be hard, but you will play again.'

"In that moment I felt such relief because I had all these things in my head that I thought I was going to have to go through."

The winger spent a week-and-a-half in hospital before being moved to a local rehabilitation centre, where she gradually had to learn to walk again.

Speaking about her rehab journey, Raso told ABC: "It was hard. I couldn't even move or roll over in bed let alone stand up.

"I had a few episodes where I passed out because of the pain and I went into shock.

"Eventually I was able to get up, slowly and with a lot of help.

"I was firstly in a wheelchair then I went to using a walking frame and I was just taking really small steps trying to get around the hospital."

Just six months after sustaining the traumatic injury, Raso returned to the pitch in a Cup of Nations match.

And, she incredibly scored for Australia against New Zealand within a matter of minutes.

Fast-forward four years and she is now one of Australia's Women's World Cup heroes.

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She scored twice for the Matildas during the group stages of the tournament before helping them to the quarter-finals with a goal against Denmark.

Raso joined European giants Real Madrid before the World Cup kicked off following an impressive two-year spell with Manchester City.

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