DOCTORS thought promising Colac junior footballer Steve Presani was mad when he returned to the field after almost dying on the operating table last year.
But the 18-year-old said nothing was going to stop him from returning to football.
Presani, a former state representative, booted six goals in his TAC Cup debut with the Geelong Falcons in June last year before injuring his right shoulder in his second game.
A month later he went in for surgery, but what was meant to be a “routine shoulder stabilisation” almost cost him his life.
Surgeons cut a main artery by mistake and the strongly-built key-position footballer lost nearly six litres of blood – the average person has about five and a half litres.
Presani spent five days in the intensive care unit and has spent the past year working towards a return to football, which he achieved with the Colac Tigers’ colts team at the weekend.
“After I woke up after the surgery and was told what had happened, it was a bit hard to take it in all at once,” Presani said.
“After a while I realised how lucky I was, you can’t take life for granted so I’ve put in a lot of hard work since then,” he said.
Presani has had two more surgeries to repair damage as well as sticking to a strict weight program, working closely with the Geelong Falcons, to regain strength in his arm.
“I’ve pretty much had to start from scratch, strengthening everything up again,” he said.
“There’s been a fair bit of gym work involved.
“I returned to running last year, but I’ve only just returned to full-contact training in the past three months.
“The Falcons have been really good to work with, whatever I needed to do, they didn’t want to push me.”
Surgeons gave Presani the all clear to return to football last week, and the young tall made his long-awaited return in the Tigers’ seven-point loss to Leopold.
“About half the doctors I spoke to have said I’m mad if I play footy ever again, but I didn’t want to listen to that,” he said.
“My nerve surgeon in Melbourne gave me the all clear last Tuesday and I played that weekend, after a while you just get sick of sitting on the sidelines.
“My match fitness wasn’t really good, I had to come off after the first three minutes because I was spent, playing on the wing.
“But the shoulder pulled up really well, I’ll just have to stick at it and hopefully get back to my best.”
Falcons regional manager Michael Turner told the Colac Herald in May that the club was likely to offer top-aged Presani an extra year at the club with one of its five spots for 19-year-olds.
Presani said he would be grateful for another opportunity with the club.