Published on March 3rd, 2017 | by Daniel Cheeseman
Meet Man City’s amputee football superstar, Jamie Tregaskiss
When Jamie Tregaskiss was a kid, he’d already decided exactly what he wanted to do for the rest of his life – play football
A goal-scoring right winger quick enough to breeze past even the best fullbacks, he was clearly head and shoulders above his friends on the local team, Hattersley FC, and found himself scouted by Manchester City before his 11th birthday.
But then, out of nowhere, disaster struck.
At the age of 13, Tregaskiss complained of a pain in his left leg after a football match. His post-match symptoms were nothing out of the ordinary: an ache in his hip, and stiffness whilst running. Understandably, he thought it was just another football injury, but the pain didn’t subside and so he received extensive physiotherapy – which came to nothing.
When Tregaskiss then suffered from persistent fatigue and weight loss over the next few weeks, his mother, Mandy, took him to hospital for a CT scan.
There was an unidentified dark patch on his pelvis, which turned out to be osteosarcoma, an extraordinarily rare form of bone cancer that affects an average of just 30 young people every year in Britain. Though uncertain, doctors believe an accident Tregaskiss had earlier that year may have had something to do with it.
To shrink the tumour, Tregaskiss was put on a three-month course of chemotherapy, losing his hair and missing most of a school year, before being told there was only one way of ridding the cancer for good: amputating his left leg at the hip.
Given the probability the cancer would take his life otherwise, there was no choice.
While he was recovering in hospital, Tregaskiss met another patient who’d lost a leg, and heard about Manchester’s amputee football team – one of the best limbless disability football clubs in the country.
Amputee football is football on crutches, played in 7-a-side teams and on a slightly smaller pitch and in 25 or 15-minute halves.
Tregaskiss gave it a go the moment he was fit enough. After more than a year without kicking a ball, he took to amputee football straight away, and immediately made friends with his teammates, most of whom were older.
Tregakiss quickly became a sensation – re-finding that pace advantage he had as child and displaying wonderful ball control, while scoring at will.
After playing and training for a few years while he completed school, Tregaskiss’s amputee footballing career kicked on with the help of Manchester City and City in the Community, who teamed up with Manchester Amputees and boosted them to become a near-professional outfit, donating kit, training venues, coaching support and greater promotion.
As a result, Tregaskiss and his teammates now train on the same pitches as the likes of Yaya Touré and Sergio Agüero. From giving up his footballing dream with the loss of his leg, he now feels more like a professional than ever.
Now 22, Tregaskiss is considered one of the best amputee footballers in the world, proving himself better on one leg as most people are on two. Last year a solo goal of his went viral, meaning he’s one of the biggest names in the sport now.
As well as playing in the amputee league and various cups for City, he represents Great Britain on the international stage, too, playing in tournaments around the world.
Tregaskiss has high hopes for amputee football, which he hopes will grow to be watched alongside the able-bodied game, pulling in huge crowds and seeing its astonishing skill levels and athleticism appreciated by the wider public. If the sport needs a flag-bearer for that, there’s nobody better.
That progress will likely take time, but at 22 Tregaskiss has plenty of years ahead of him.