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US Rookie Robert Spotswood

America's Remarkable Rookie

From Soccer Star to Amputation to US National Team in a Year and a Day

by R. G. Hofmann

At 16 years old Robert Spotswood felt his life was pretty much under control.

He held a starting position on the Alabama state select soccer team, he attended a private New Hampshire boarding school where he was a leading scorer on the varsity soccer team, and he looked forward to a life with boundless possibilities for prosperity and success.

But on August 3, 1998 a few beers and a high speed turn on a bad road seemed to change all that in an instant.

Robert slammed his father's Range Rover into a tree at 60-80 miles an hour, suffered a traumatic amputation during the wreck and "broke nearly every bone in my body."

But within a year of life threatening injuries Robert became stronger, more focused and more athletic than ever.

It could never happen to me

"I always thought nothing could happen to me," Robert recalled. "I guess I thought I was made out of titanium or something. I had a few beers and it impaired my judgement."

"Both my arms were broken, all of my ribs were broken, both my lungs collapsed, I had third degree burns, a fractured eye socket - and other things too grotesque to describe," he said.

Robert lost his right foot at the scene. The damage was so great, however, that later that night doctors had to remove the rest of his leg above the knee.

After surviving the first night through what his mother describes "a series of miracles," Robert spent 11 weeks in the hospital, followed by another three months at home in a hospital bed.

During his hospital stay that Robert went through a sense of loss and depression, but he emerged stronger than ever.