Footballer breaks neck during goal celebration

An amateur footballer from Hartlepool was almost paralysed when he broke his neck doing a "Klinsmann" celebration after scoring a last-minute winning goal.

27-year-old Dennis Swales cracked a shot from 20 yards on to the underside of the bar and in to the back of the net to secure a win for his club.

In ecstasy, he dived into a puddle and slid in triumph but immediately knew his celebration had gone drastically wrong, even before team-mates piled on top of him.

"In elation I ran towards the manager and out of the corner of my eye I saw a puddle.

I did my Jurgen Klinsmann celebration but instead of flying through the mud, I got my face stuck in the grass and my full body weight went through my neck.

I cracked two vertebrae and had four damaged discs which have had to be replaced with plastic ones."

– Dennis Swales

It was feared he might never walk again when he went in for surgery following the accident six weeks ago, but the six-hour operation went well enough for Mr Swales to avoid needing to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

He will, however, never play competitively again.

"I'm devastated. At 27 years old I am just hitting my prime. I was having the season of my life and that celebration took it all away from me.

I have done it so many times before, when it's raining everyone loves a slide in the mud. It was a freak accident."

– Dennis Swales