Omar Elabdellaoui has returned to football after over one year of involving in a fireworks accident that left him clinically blind.
The incident that happened on December 31, 2020, subjected the Norwegian right-back who currently plays for Galatasaray, to 11 surgeries in an attempt to regain his sight.
After undergoing treatment and rehabilitation which was fully sponsored by Galatasaray, Elabdellaoui made his first football appearance on Monday, February 21, 2022.
The Norwegian right-back who played with specially fitted glasses stunned the world as he played for 90 minutes in the Turkish Super Lig match between Galatasaray and Goztepe.
Fortunately for Omar Elabdellaoui and his team, Galatasaray beat Goztepe 2-3 away from home to move to the 13th spot on the league table with 32 points in 26 games.
What was Omar Elabdellaoui’s reaction after playing his first game in over one year?
After staging a miraculous comeback to football, an excited Omar Elabdellaoui told beIN SPORTS that he felt like he was starting his football career all over again.
“I went through a difficult process. It was a difficult injury. I struggled a lot”, Elabdellaoui said.
“I’m back on the field and doing what I love most. It’s my dream come true for the second time. It felt like I started football for the second time.”
How did Omar Elabdellaoui go clinically blind?
Omar Elabdellaoui who is a product of the Manchester City youth system and briefly played for Hull City in 2017 on loan from Olympiacos, joined Galatasaray on August 17, 2020, from the Greek club on a free transfer.
On December 31, 2020, the footballer, his wife, Anne, their three children whose names are not in the public domain, and some of their family friends were in a garden enjoying fireworks on New Year’s Eve 2020.
Elabdellaoui was about to set fire to his third fireworks of the night when it exploded in his hands. The gunpowder and the metal in the fireworks scattered all over his face and penetrate his eyes.
His jacket was on fire and his first was burnt badly but all the Norwegian defender could say was ‘I can’t see, I can’t see!”.
His wife and those around called for help. An ambulance came to his rescue and was rushed to the hospital for treatment.
“I just thought I had something in my eye and had to clear it out but then I felt my face totally burning and everything was black,” Elabdellaoui recalls.
“I didn’t really have control over the first days. Everything was dark – I didn’t know if it was night or day. Time was irrelevant.
“There were a lot of people and noise. Voices become so much louder as you hear everything when you can’t see. The longer it took, the more afraid I was.
“I tried desperately to understand but it was difficult. Because of all the gunpowder, my face was burned. I think it was difficult for them to say how bad it was straight away. In one moment I grabbed the doctor to say: ‘Just tell me the truth, tell me how bad it is.’ She said: ‘Your left eye doesn’t look too bad but your right eye, we do not know.’ But the way she said it, I knew it was not good.”
How did Omar Elabdellaoui regain his sight?
Even though they just signed him four months before the incident, Galatasaray took charge of the expense of all Omar Elabdellaoui’s treatment.
It got to a point hospitals in Turkey could not handle it and had to be flown to a specialist in the United States of America.
While in America, Omar Elabdellaoui underwent 11 surgeries including an ocular stem cell transplant from his sister, Ikram.
Ahead of the surgeries, the doctor handling the process gave him a 5 to 10 percent chance of regaining his sight which he eventually did after months of treatment.
As he was trying to regard his sight, Elabdellaoui kept working very hard to keep his body fit in anticipation of returning to professional football someday. To achieve that, he employed the services of a trainer from the NFL side the Cincinnati Bengals.
His dream of regaining his sight did not only come true, his dream of playing professional football again came true on Monday when he helped Galatasaray to beat Goztepe 2-3 which was the club’s first win in 2022.
What is Elabdellaoui’s contract with Galatasaray?
The contract Omar Elabdellaoui signed with Elabdellaoui on August 17, 2020, will expire on June 30, 2023. The deal is worth £520,000 per year which means that the Norwegian defender earns £10,000-per-week in Turkey.
According to reports, Elabdellaoui’s net worth is £3,411,200 even though he has not been active in football for over a year.
Before he had the fireworks accident, Elabdellaoui who made his international debut on August 14, 2013, made 49 appearances for Norway’s national team.