If only for a moment, those around Carlos Sánchez assumed the worst.
Terrifying, fragmented images of Antonio Puerta, Marc Vivien-Foe and others permeated in their minds as the extent of the damage to his body was initially announced.
"Stroke"... "brain clot"... "life-threatening"... "induced coma"... "possible paralysis."
On a hot, bright mid-August morning in Mexico City, Sánchez reported to practice at Club América's facility with the rest of his teammates.
After an initial workout, Sánchez collapsed. He was immediately transferred to a local hospital where he would be operated on and placed in an induced coma. At the time, his status was labeled critical.
The team suspended any further activity for the rest of the day and news slowly trickled out from doctors and team officials.
At the time, the best-case scenario was that Sánchez would not suffer paralysis, and that he would slowly recover, with chances of continuing his career as a footballer all but ruled out.
The worst-case scenario was the very real possibility that he could die, or suffer permanent paralysis on one side of his body.
The following weekend, teams across the nation displayed banners displaying messages of support. A moment of silent prayer was observed prior to his team's game.
There was a 40 to 50 percent chance he would never regain movement in the left side of his body.
Sanchez's doctor, Nader Kawachi, had estimated that movement would only possibly be obtained after months of physical therapy and rehabilitation.
The following week, Sánchez's health stabilized, with the removal of his coma moved up by several days. Remarkably, after only two weeks, he showed massive strides in his recovery, with movement being reported along his body.
On September 3rd, less than a month after his collapse and subsequent internment, Sánchez left the hospital. The following night, he appeared on national television with his mother. Though unable to talk, he waved and — wearing his jersey — placed his hand over his heart in support of his team.
Only a week later, having regained his speech, Carlos gave a short interview to the media and visited his teammates during practice. The next Saturday, he was seen in a media box, cheering and even clapping.
After game introductions on September 21st at the mythical Estadio Azteca, Sánchez was shown attending the game on the stadium big screen. He was given a standing ovation and received frantic cheers from the 40,000 plus in attendance.
Today, when those around him stop and realize what he has accomplished in such a short time, certain words come to mind:
"Inspiring"... "a miracle of life"... "incredible recovery"... "a wonderful story".
Though it is still unknown if the 28 year-old will ever play again, his will and his remarkable recovery have undoubtedly made him a success story.
Although, after facing death in a very real way, and being told he would probably never walk again, the question of him ever playing again is almost moot amongst the reality of his recovery.
However, he has said he will play again. And if this story should tell us one thing for sure:
Doubters would be warned about betting against Carlos.
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