An Australian soccer player who broke her back during a game and faced the prospect of never playing football again has made a miraculous return to the pitch.
Hayley Raso, 24, broke three vertebrae in a vicious collision with an opposition goalkeeper while playing for Portland in the National Women's Soccer League in the United States.
The young attacker was carried off the field on a stretcher in severe pain after fracturing her back during the game in August.
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Hayley Raso (pictured), 24, broke three vertebrae in a vicious collision with an opposition goalkeeper while playing for Portland in the National Women's Soccer League
The 24-year-old Australian international suffered a traumatic back injury, breaking three vertebrae in a sickening collision with an opposition goalkeeper
The young attacker was carried off the field on a stretcher in severe pain after fracturing the 'transverse processes of L2, L3 and L4' during the game in August
Raso made a remarkable return to the field on Thursday as a substitute in Australia's 2-0 win over New Zealand at the Cup of Nations in Sydney, and even managed to score a blind goal.
Just three minutes after coming off the bench late in the second half, she rounded a defender and drilled the ball into the net for an incredible return.
'I think it was just overwhelming for me,' she said of getting on the scoresheet.
'I'm just so excited to be out here playing again and to get a goal topped it all off.'
Raso's life crumbled when she was stretchered off the field in agony in August.
The 24-year-old instantly thought the worst and feared she'd never be able to walk again, let along continue to play the sport she loved.
Footage of the match shows Raso clashing with the goalkeeper awkwardly at high speed, with the keeper burying her knee deep into Raso's back.
'I can remember just saying: ''Help me, help me''. I knew that something bad had happened,' she told the ABC.
Raso made a remarkable return to the field on Thursday as a