A one-legged soccer player has become an internet sensation after scoring an epic goal for his high school team, helping secure victory. In what would have been a difficult move for any of the players on the pitch, Nico Calabria kicks a spectacular volley, leaving his opponents speechless, supporters extatic and almost 1.5 million YouTube users completely stunned. The Concord-Carlisle High School student not only plays on the soccer team but is also co-captain of the varsity wrestling team and has made it onto the US National Amputee Soccer Team, where he plays alongside war veterans.
‘My disability doesn’t define who I am,’ Calabria said. ‘My disability gives me a challenge everyday that I need to overcome and I think that challenge has made me a stronger person.’
Soccer teammate Kevin Houlihan told the Boston Herald: ‘He’s an elite player for his status, he can keep up with anyone out here. It’s just really impressive.
‘Obviously he lacks quickness but he’s just as good technically as many of the players out here.’
Calabria’s coaches echo the teen’s praises, insisting that he made on the team ‘out of merit’, not ‘looking for charity’ adding that his skills have continued to grow season by season.
‘I think a lot of people see him come out on the field and thinking “oh isn’t that nice, they let Nico play”, when that couldn’t be farther from the truth.’
Now aged 18, he first made headlines as a 13-year-old when he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro for charity, becoming the only person to have ever submitted on crutches.
Calabria reached the 19,341 ft peak, raising $100,000 and securing himself a world record.
His plight became the subject of a documentary, aired in 2010, as he raised money to deliver free wheelchairs to the people of Tanzania.
The courageous teen has since appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ show to talk about his groundbreaking expedition.
On air he described his grueling five-and-a-half day climb, which he chose to do for his family’s traditional ‘coming of age trip’ that all Calabria kids take aged 13.
‘You want to slowly climb up so your body gets used to the altitude,’ he told Ellen. ‘And then quickly come down so you don’t die.’
The young climber battled -40 degree temperatures, wanting to quit at the end of day one. But encouraged by his father he persevered, achieving something few have done.
‘It was completely insane,’ he recalled, ‘I did not wanna keep going.’
Calabria’s father was forced to quit just metres from the summit, after developing a severe case of altitude sickness, but the young teen persevered and made it to the top, beating the odds and making quite a name for himself.
At birth Calabria’s parents were told he would never lead a normal life and he certainly hasn’t.
His has been one extraordinary journey.
‘I’ve got one leg. You get one life,’ Nico said. ‘I’m not going to let the hand I was dealt in life dictate what my life is going to be.’