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28 November 2011, 10:55
A Colchester-based paratrooper who was told his leg might be amputated after he was injured in Afghanistan has returned to the football pitch.
Lance Corporal Tony Fitzpatrick, of 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, was shot in the legs four times after his patrol was ambushed in Helmand Province last December.
But after extensive surgery and treatment at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court, L/Cpl Fitzpatrick is back to full fitness.
The 30-year-old, from Leicester, tough-tackling midfielder completed his recovery by pulling on the red shirt of the Army football team to play in a 5-0 win over Sussex FA in the Southern Counties Cup competition.
L/Cpl Fitzpatrick, from Leicester, said: "I really felt proud to get back on the pitch.
"I used to take my fitness for granted, but after being injured I know I can't do that. My injury has given me a new view of life and I focus on what I can do and get on with it.''
L/Cpl Fitzpatrick was first selected for the Army team in 2009 and played four matches that season, as well as for the 2 PARA team that won the Army FA Challenge Cup in April 2010.
The father-of-one was deployed on a six-month tour of Afghanistan in October 2010.
Two months into the tour, L/Cpl Fitzpatrick was shot during a night operation in the Nahr-e-Saraj area.
Within 20 hours he was back at the Queen Elizabeth in Birmingham where he was told that his right leg might have to be amputated.