A Highland League footballer has thanked the scores of well-wishers who donated more than £6,000 so he could have career-saving surgery.
Dane Ballard was wearing the red of Deveronvale FC last September when his studs got caught in the pitch, leaving him with a nasty knee injury.
He was diagnosed with ligament rupture and grade three tear of the lateral meniscus.
As well as leaving the star striker unable to play the beautiful game it meant he could not play and run around after his young daughter.
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter
The Banff-based semi-professional side decided to step in and help the player by launching an online campaign to pay for private surgery amid fears that he may have to wait longer than a year for an operation on the NHS, due to long waiting lists.
A combination of donations to the Just Giving page, fundraising events and Mr Ballard’s own efforts made sure he secured the cash for the procedure.
The 26-year-old prison officer has now gone under the knife at the Albyn Hospital in Aberdeen, and surgeons have told him it was went “very well”.
Now he has thanked the people who decided to dig into their pocket to give him another chance of footballing success.
Mr Ballard said: “I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone. I’m very grateful for all the help and support to get to this point.
“I will be working as hard as possible to get back on the park as soon I can, and scoring goals for the all the fans who have supported me through this by donating and being part of our fundraiser night which was an incredible success.
“Without their help I would still be on the waiting list with the NHS, not knowing when I would be back or if I would ever get back.”
Mr Ballard faces nine months of rehabilitation once he stops using crutches and hopes to be back playing for Deveronvale in time for start of the 2020/21 Highland League season.
The surgery took place just days after Mr Ballard signed a new contract with the club, keeping him at Princess Royal Park until 2022.