Former English soccer star Gary Mabbutt said Monday he was forced to end his South Africa trip early after a rat ate his foot and chewed his big toe “down to the bone” while he was sleeping.
Mabbutt, the former Tottenham Hotspur captain, told the BBC the gruesome incident happened about six weeks ago while visiting his daughter, who works at Kruger National Park.
"I've gone to sleep and during the night a rat has come into the bedroom, climbed into the bed and has decided to chew on my foot," Mabbutt said. "It's made quite a big hole in my toe, going down to the bone, and ate underneath my foot.”
Mabbutt, 57, said he didn’t feel the rat’s teeth sinking in to his flesh because he has little feeling in his feet. The former soccer star, who has Type 1 diabetes, recalled his daughter coming into his bedroom and saying she was bitten by something.
"It bit my daughter's thumb first in the other bedroom, and then she came into me and said 'Dad, something's bitten me'. Being in Africa, you think of snakes and scorpions,” Mabbutt told the BBC.
He went back to sleep, and about an hour later, woke up when the rat bit his thumb. He looked down and saw his foot covered in blood.
"Unfortunately the rat had had a nice meal and I hadn't been able to feel it," Mabbutt recalled.
Mabbutt flew back to the United Kingdom, where he underwent surgery and spent a week in the hospital. He added that he’s still receiving treatment for the incident.
Mabbutt, who retired in 1998 from the sport, played 16 games with the England national soccer team.