STATESBORO, Ga. (WSAV) – In the blink of an eye, Lucas Coutinho’s life turned upside down. Chasing down a ball in the first half of a game in August 2019, the Tormenta FC midfielder collided head-on with an FC Tucson goalkeeper and was knocked unconscious.
As he was loaded onto the stretcher and put in the ambulance, fans were relieved to see Coutinho looking around and moving. But, once he got to the hospital, Coutinho slipped into a 5-day coma.
When he eventually woke up, doctors told him he had cerebral edema’s in three different places. His brain was swelling.
“It was tough to see my parents here [at the hospital] and my mom crying,” Coutinho rememberd.
For those first few months, soccer was off the table. The Brazilian spent time in and out of his hospital bed learning how to walk and balance on two legs again.
“Even though it was a little weird everyone was happy because they could see Lucas was still in there,” Coutinho explained.
Something else was still in there — a desire to rejoin his teammates in Statesboro and take the field once again. “Heard from my doctor that if I was someone else that he didn’t know he would tell me not to play soccer again,” Couthino said. “I was like ‘I got hit in the head. No one broke my legs. When I get through this I’m going to be back playing.'”
A few months later, Coutinho achieved what he set out to do. His coaches were impressed by his regained balance and ability to play soccer at a professional level.
“Within three weeks of preseason in February he was flying,” Tormenta FC head coach John Miglarese added. “Gettin stuck in on challenges and doing his thing.”
Then, another hurdle came into the picture. The COVID-19 pandemic threatened to shut down Tormenta FC’s 2020 season and Coutinho’s journey back to the pitch before it even started.
“Maybe I should stop,” Coutinho said, when asked for his reaction in March. “Maybe it’s a sign from God that it is time for me to do something else.”
It turns out, quarantine didn’t stand a chance. Coutinho found ways to stay in shape and Tormenta FC eventually got the green light to play its season.
Less than a year after slipping into the coma, Coutinho laced up the boots and made the starting lineup for his team’s season opener in Statesboro.
“All I could do is look up and thank God for letting me do [play soccer] again,” Coutinho said, remembering the moments after the final whistle blew last Saturday. “2020 for me, the word is ‘thankful’. I’m thankful for doing this.”
Coutinho believes his loving family, the Tormenta FC community, and his friends across the globe gave him strength to make it through long days in the hospital and at rehab. In the end, Coutinho says, he wasn’t going to give up on his passion that easy.
“I didn’t want to stop playing football because of a head injury,” Coutinho stated. “I wanted to be the guy giving an interview a year later about how he came back and is doing alright.”
Sports reporter Connor DelPrete brings you Coutinho’s full journey tonight on WSAV at 11.