Gary Parkinson was a member of the Middlesbrough team that won consecutive promotions up to Division One in the late 1980s.
He went on to enjoy a long and illustrious footballing career playing for a number of clubs including Burnley, Preston North End and Blackpool, where he eventually became youth coach after his playing days came to an end.
In September 2010 his life changed dramatically. The 44-year-old suffered a stroke that left him with locked-in syndrome. He cannot speak or swallow and has little movement.
The BBC's Mark Clemmit went to meet the former player and his family for a special feature on BBC Radio 5 live which was broadcasted Thursday 12th April.
"I'm a Boro fan. It was the team of 1986 that I fell in love with. That was the period when the club came back from liquidation and won consecutive promotions to the top flight," Clemmit explained.
"In the full-back positions they had Colin Cooper, on the left, and Parkinson on the right. Gary Pallister was also part of the backline - it was a great defence. 'Parky' was the stoic unsung hero of the back four.
"It's most disconcerting to see a bloke that you remember flooding down the right flank for Middlesbrough, sitting in a wheelchair, wearing a full neck-brace and head-brace, with a tube going into his stomach to feed him and having undergone a tracheotomy to enable him to breath.
"That's the condition of one of my footballing heroes, Gary Parkinson."
Parkinson is only able to communicate through eye movements but he still retains his colourful personality.
"When a nurse came into the room Brian [Laws] said, 'she's all right' to which Gary responded with a flicker of his eyes. Flicking his eyelids upwards for 'yes' and downwards for 'no'."
Despite his condition, he still plays a big part in family life, particularly in matters like his children's education.
Parkinson's wife Deborah is his full-time carer and Clemmit was eager to ensure the feature recognised the character and dedication of Deborah as well as the rest of his family.
"His wife is the most extraordinary woman I have ever, ever met. There was never a down moment. She keeps going and her dedication to her man is beyond belief.
"It says 'for better for worse' when you sign up and that's her attitude."
If you missed the show you can listen again on the BBC iPlayer by clicking here
Parkinson's former club Burnley are holding a collection to raise funds for his continued rehabilitation.
The bucket collection will take place in all areas of Turf Moor ahead of the Clarets' game against Coventry City on Saturday.