Jane O’Toole was captaining the Paisley-based side in the Scottish Women’s Football League First Division when she collided with an opposition player from Inverness Caledonian Thistle while challenging for the ball near the halfway line.
Tumbling to the turf in agony, the teak-tough utility player immediately realised that her kneecap had popped gruesomely out of place, fighting through intense pain in an effort to slap the bone back into place.
When her initial attempt at correcting the problem failed to have the desired restorative effect, O’Toole began to rain frantic punches at her protruding right kneecap, succeeding with her self-surgery before collapsing on her side.
Players from both clubs frantically alerted the referee to the problem, who appears to have signalled for medical treatment.
Reacting incredibly to an injury that has historically kept players out for months, O’Toole recovered to play the rest of the match and is thought to have suffered no lasting damage from the brutal incident.
Writing on social media, St Mirren WFC praised their skipper for being “made of tough stuff”, adding: “You can’t put a good woman down – she got back up and played the full 90 minutes.
“What a girl. Dislocated kneecap, knocks it back in and carries on playing. What a captain, what commitment.”
O’Toole, who extended her contract with the club at the end of January having played at full-back, on the wing and in central midfield during her career, also won admiration from fans.
“You wouldn’t see that in the men’s game, that’s for sure,” wrote one, saluting a player who describes football as “life” and lists her interests as nights out and chocolate.
“Get in, skipper,” responded another. “That is hard as f****** nails, that.”
Charlie Daniels, who plays for English Premier League side Bournemouth, winced in horror and was forced out for four months when he dislocated his knee in a similar fall last year.
O’Toole has also escaped the misfortune suffered by Liverpool Women’s goalkeeper Fran Kitching, who missed a match last month when she picked up two black eyes and needed stitches to deal with a huge gash across her head following an injury sustained in training.
Footballers are often maligned for going to ground too easily but the list of players who have persevered through excruciating pain is a long one.
Tottenham striker Heung-Min Son played on, scored twice and completed his side’s win at Aston Villa last Sunday despite having a broken arm, although he is now expected to miss the rest of the season with an injury that Spurs boss Jose Mourinho admitted had left the club with “broken hearts”.