Former English soccer star Gary Mabbutt had to cut his South African vacation short last month and fly home for emergency surgery after after his foot was eaten by a rat while he was sleeping.
Mabbutt, who played for Tottenham for 16 years, was on vacation visiting his daughter, who works at Kruger National Park — a massive national park along South Africa’s border with Mozambique.
The 57-year-old, who has type 1 diabetes and little feeling in his feet already, was woken up one night by his daughter.
“It bit my daughter’s thumb first in the other bedroom, and then she came into me and said, ‘Dad, something’s bitten me,'” Mabbutt told BBC. “Being in Africa, you think of snakes and scorpions.”
Mabbutt and his daughter, who was unscathed, both went back to bed. About an hour later, he felt a bite on his thumb that woke him up.
That’s when he looked down and saw his foot, and the bed, was covered in blood.
“Unfortunately, the rat had had a nice meal and I hadn’t been able to feel it,” Mabbutt told BBC.
“It’s made quite a big hole in my toe, going down to the bone, and ate underneath my foot.”
Mabbutt then quickly flew back to the United Kingdom for surgery and spent a week in the hospital. He told the BBC that he still needs daily hospital treatment for his injuries.
Mabbutt played in more than 600 games from 1982-1998 with Tottenham and in 16 games with the England national team before he retired in 1998.
“All the opponents that I’ve played against, and I finally get taken out by a rat,” Mabbutt told BBC.
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