The 57-year-old was forced to fly back to the UK for surgery and spent a week in hospital. Mabbutt, who has 16 caps for England, has type 1 diabetes making him experience little feeling in his feet.
The incident happened six weeks ago when he was visiting his daughter, who is working at the Kruger National Park as a veterinarian.
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. It’s made quite a big hole in my toe, going down to the bone, and ate underneath my foot. 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.”
About an hour later, Mabbutt felt a bite on a thumb while sleeping, then saw his foot was covered in blood.
Unfortunately the rat had had a nice meal and I hadn’t been able to feel it.
Mabbutt said he still needs daily hospital treatment for his injuries. Despite being told at the age of 17 that he would have to give up football, Mabbutt played 611 games in a 16-year Tottenham career.
He said he injects insulin seven times per day, and tests his blood 10 times per day. In 2016, he almost lost a leg and had to have emergency surgery because of blocked arteries.
He can no longer run or kick a ball.