Former AFL player Jonathan Hay has revealed he feared he’d never walk again after a terrifying bicycle accident in Melbourne.
The East Fremantle junior, who played 157 games for Hawthorn and North Melbourne, spent a week in hospital after his bicycle slammed into the back of a car last Tuesday.
“A black van pulled out and stopped in my bike lane which I didn’t see and I also didn’t have time to touch my brakes before slamming into the back of it. Next thing I remember I was lying on warm asphalt,” he posted on Facebook.
“Someone informed me that an ambulance was 10 minutes away, so that started my next goal of being able to wiggle my fingers and toes.
“Hell I couldn’t feel anything anywhere let alone asking my longest reaching neurons to come to the party.
“All I could think about was my children, how am I going to be able to father them properly when I can’t look after myself.”
Father-of-two Hay, a 2001 All Australian, said he was later told by surgeons how close he came to becoming a quadriplegic.
“The surgeons told me in no uncertain terms that I was very close to being in a wheelchair permanently. I was in hospital for a week and the world (word) that kept coming to me was gratefulness,” he posted.
“That the injury wasn’t worse, for my boys, family, friends. A lot of people said it’s just bad luck, f… that, it’s great luck. I will be practising gratefulness daily now.”
Hay walked away from the Kangaroos at the start of 2007 after a tough year prior where he fell out of favour and publicly spoke of his battle with bipolar disorder.
“The illness has directly affected my form and at times my wellbeing and behaviour off the field,” he said at the time.
“I am continuing to receive expert health and I’m doing all in my power to ensure that I can recover fully and return to consistent senior football.”
Hay was born in Kalgoorlie but moved to Perth as a teen, where he played for East Fremantle.
He was taken by the Hawks with pick 36 in the 1996 AFL Draft, and managed 149 games during his nine years at the club.
He was traded to North Melbourne for a first round pick at the end of 2005 but managed just eight games in his only season at the club.