Charlie fogarty the footballer forced to rebuild his life from square one barry glendenning football the guardian inspirational quotes for education students

It is said life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans. Despite being released by birmingham city as a 15-year-old who had spent five years with the club, charlie fogarty was intent on following his plan of making it as a footballer. Small for his age but a technically gifted defender who was representing northern ireland at youth level, he was six weeks into a trial with MK dons when life intervened.

Crossing the road after alighting from a bus on his way to training in march 2012, fogarty was hit by a car. He took the full impact on his head, resulting in a huge shaking of his brain.

Rushed to birmingham children’s hospital, he spent 11 days in intensive care, followed by four months on the neurosurgical ward.

It was not until fogarty was in an ambulance being transferred to a rehabilitation facility in tadworth, surrey, that he came out of what was ostensibly a five-month coma.Best they

“I was strapped into a stretcher and I couldn’t move my legs or anything but I just waved at my mum, who was there beside me,” he says, almost six years later. “for some reason – and I don’t know why it was – I didn’t get angry. I just accepted that something had happened to me. At the time I just didn’t know what.”

By his side was where mum, sara, had spent most of her time since learning of his accident. His dad, mark, then head of recruitment at coventry city, scheduled his visits around looking after the couple’s other children, tommy and emma. They had been at tommy’s eighth birthday party when police alerted them to their eldest son’s accident and rushed them to hospital. Nobody in the speeding car knew whether charlie was alive or dead.

“we got there and he was having scans and after about an hour we got the news he was OK and we were allowed to see him,” mark says. “but what we didn’t realise was that he was in intensive care.Best they he actually wasn’t OK, even though we thought he was going to wake up any minute. His eyes opened after he was back on the neuro ward after a couple of weeks, but he was in a type of a coma. He wasn’t doing anything and he remained not doing anything for four months.”

Facebook twitter pinterest one of charlie fogarty’s long-term aims is to inspire ‘millions of people to be the best they can be’. Photograph: andrew fox/the guardian

Sitting at the kitchen table of their home on the outskirts of solihull, charlie and his father make for an often amusing double act as they recount the story of how a kid with a promising future in football had to learn how to walk, talk and feed himself again from scratch. He has done all that and much more, maturing into an inspirational young man who was awarded an MBE in the new year honours list for his services to youth and presented with his medal by prince william at a buckingham palace ceremony.Best they

In between continuing rehab, focusing on the sports science degree he will complete in a few months and representing northern ireland in two cerebral palsy world cups, charlie has also begun a career as a motivational speaker and is the player-manager of the solihull moors open age football programme he set up for people who, like him, love playing football but for various reasons beyond their control could not find anywhere to play. His father is the head of sport at the national league club, where he has built the academy from scratch since leaving his job at coventry 11 months after the accident to look after his son.

“it was just looking at myself really, knowing I couldn’t play anywhere as well as I used to,” charlie says. “and I started thinking about other kids who love the game but can’t play because there’s no team for them. So I set up solihull moors and it kind of gained momentum because of the contacts my dad has in the game.Being released he was able to help establish it.”

Charlie’s has not been a full recovery and remains a work in process. His speech is a mite slow but his wit is quick, something he believes helps him in the anything is possible themed speeches he delivers to schools and premier league and football league club academies. He does corporate events, too, and jokes that for the right price he is available for bar mitzvahs and children’s parties.

“I always want to help other people and that is one of my long-term aims now, to inspire millions of people to be the best they can be,” he says. “I love meeting new people and I want them all to succeed. I want everyone to do well. I go in and my clients who I most often speak to are the under-18s at a time when they’re about to find out whether they’re being released or being kept on and given a pro-contract. I go in to tell them that, if they are released, they can go on to achieve great things.”

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Charlie’s career in motivational speaking began after an address he gave at his former school garnered rave reviews and he put together a presentation with the help of his family. It was piloted at wigan athletic with the blessing of their academy manager, greg rioch.

“he’s now contracted to the premier league and football league delivering those speeches,” mark says. “it’s got to the point where he’s got a manager to book all these engagements for him, because I haven’t time to do it any more.” there is a pause, during which father and son exchange a look that could conceivably be described as heart-rendingly tender. “I also can’t be bothered,” mark says, laughing.

Facebook twitter pinterest charlie fogarty at buckingham palace with his MBE, awarded for services to young people in solihull. Photograph: yui mok/PA

While neuro doctors might dispute the notion that the kind of laughter which echoes around the fogarty home is the best medicine, a famous comedian played a surprise role in charlie’s recovery.Being released still largely expressionless and uncommunicative six months after his accident, somebody opened a laptop on youtube in front of him and he began painstakingly typing “M-I-C-H-A-E-L M-C-I-N-T-Y-R-E” with one finger. The ensuing routine, about the weirdness of naked men in changing rooms, brought a broad smile and signalled a pivotal moment in his recovery.

“since the accident charlie can’t cry,” mark says. “he can’t smell, he doesn’t know when he’s full after eating, he’s got no lactic acid. So with all of those things, to get a smile back on his face after six months … it was unbelievable.

“if you talk to any neurosurgeon now, they’ll tell you there’s that many pockets of damage in charlie’s brain he shouldn’t be able to do anything. We were at our wits’ end but, when a michael mcintyre video made him smile after six months of no facial expressions whatsoever, we thought: ‘something might be happening here.’”