When he was 12 years old, He Yiyi lost his left leg to bone cancer. However, that hasn’t stopped him from becoming a football star in China.
Recently, a video starring the now 21-year-old He has gone super viral on Chinese social media. In the video, the one-legged footballer is seen moving across the field with the help of a pair of crutches, taking shots, and scoring goals during an exhibition match in Shenzhen.
Growing up, He was a promising football prospect. He had even attracted the notice of a French scout and was planning to go to France to pursue his dream of becoming a professional footballer. But, before he could do so, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that typically affects children and adolescents. Doctors said that his best chance of survival was to have his leg amputated.
He spent the next year in and out of the hospital and had to give up on the game that he loved. However, eventually, with the help of his trainer, he started to get back into the sport. While the training was difficult, he believed that after what he had been through, he could endure anything.
To make sure not to hurt other players out on the field, He says that he always plays with cheap crutches that will break easily if someone takes him down. But, despite this precaution, he has been unable to get any amateur league to allow him to play, being rejected again and again.
After hearing his inspirational story, net users from across China have responded with words of encouragement for He, with some even suggesting that he ought to skip amateur leagues altogether and try out for China’s struggling national team.
“If only he had two legs, Chinese football would be saved,” wrote one Weibo user.
He says that he plans to play football competitively for two or three more years while his body is still young. He hopes that in that time he’ll find a league that will accept him.
[Images via why体育 / @何忆义]