This is the moment a promising rugby player’s career was shattered after he tackled an opponent so hard his own eye popped out.
Ash Howlett also suffered two blood clots on the brain, double fractures on his eye socket and broke dozens of bones in his face and nose.
Paramedics put 23-year-old Ash’s eye back into its socket on the side of the pitch before he was airlifted to hospital.
Ash suffered the horror injuries while playing for Leamington Royals Rugby League team against rivals Birmingham Bulldogs at 4pm last Saturday.
Players and spectators watched in horror as Ash tackled an opponent who accidentally smashed him in the face with his knee just after half time.
Devastated Ash, from Whitnash, Leamington Spa, Warks., said the tackle felt like being ”shot in the head.”
The 5ft 6in winger said yesterday: ”It looks like there’s a plum on my eye and I have to be careful because if I blow my nose my cheek inflates!
”I tend to put myself about a bit because I’m quite a small guy. I went into the tackle completely clean but as I dipped my head it hit his knee.
”It felt like someone had shot me in the head. As I lay there I could feel my head expanding; blood was pouring out of my face.
”My eye popped out and was hanging there before going back in. I’m scared of flying but I couldn’t wait to get into that air ambulance.”
Ash, who works for Volvo, was airlifted to Coventry’s University Hospital where surgeons inserted metal plates into his face to stop broken bones moving under his skin.
Doctors have told Ash he should never play rugby again as any impact could cause his eye to pop again.
He said: ”I’ve played my whole life and broken my jaw, knee and ankle, but I can’t afford to put my family through all this again. I’m probably a better coach than a player anyway.”
A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: ”It was a terrible injury and he was very lucky it was not worse.”