Man who lost an arm battles depression to play as goalkeeper for Navigo five-a-side team
DESPITE only having one arm nothing will prevent this goal keeper from trying to stop the shots.
Robert Lovejoy, 46, enjoys playing a big part in his team's efforts every time he plays.
He thought he would never play sports again after the whole of his right arm was amputated eight months ago.
But since getting help from mental health organisation Navigo, he plays in goal every Tuesday for their five-a-side team.
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Robert, of Daubney Street, Cleethorpes, said: "It has made me feel brilliant. I thought I'd never play football again so to be asked to play is wonderful. I get so much enjoyment from it. It is great being out on the pitch with all the lads."
Sports mad, he once played London League Rugby, but crushed his arm in a nasty tackle when he was 18.
He spent four years having major operations to rebuild it, but this eventually led to bad circulation and excruciating pain.
Twenty years of heavy lifting in various manual jobs also took their toll.
In 2010 it was amputated at the elbow, and then from the shoulder last summer.
Robert spiralled into a pit of depression after the first amputation and he tried to end his life and self-harmed.
He was admitted to mental health hospital Harrison House, in Grimsby, and is now an out-patient with Navigo.
He continued: "I had a complete breakdown. It hit me hard. I couldn't dress myself or eat by myself. I had to relearn to do everything."
His wife, Ruth, 49, an Asda checkout worker and Robert's carer, has supported him throughout.
She said: "It is going to take a long time, it has been three years and we have learned not to build our hopes up, but football has helped him.
"I didn't think I would ever see him play again. It is great to go see him play and enjoying doing something."
Robert is still battling with his depression, but finds welcome escape when he is on the pitch.
"I love playing. I see my life as I want to end it every day or self-harm," he said. "I have to live with that, but for those few hours on the pitch my mind is on the game. I am not thinking of anything else.
"I am also playing with people who have the same life as me. We get to escape from it all. We haven't got people asking how we are all the time.
"In our team, when we play, it doesn't matter if we win or lose, we win every time because we enjoy it. We come as a team, we play as a team. It doesn't matter about the result."
Adam Cook, OT and Senior Care Co-ordinator, set up the group in 2007 as a kick about and now the team regularly compete in tournaments. The football team is now run by the Recovery Team. He said: "Benefits from playing sports are endless.
"It isn’t just excellent for your physical health but also your mental health.
"If you are in good physical shape, it helps improve your mental health too.
"Group sports are fun, you have the company of others and it gives you a sense of achievement and being part of a team.
"It is good for improving your mood, in particular anxiety and depression."
For more information, see www.navigocare.co.uk