Thursday, 28 April 2011

Top Ten Injury Ruined Careers

*This piece originally featured on*

Injuries are part and parcel of the game of football and all players will inevitably suffer a variety of them throughout the course of their career. Players who come to clubs with bright futures, big reputations or with large price tags can suffer injuries which mean they never reach the heights that were expected of them by their buyers and can potentially threaten their careers. Here is a list of the top ten players who have seen their careers severely hampered, if not ended, because of injury.

10. Daniel Prodan
£2m / Athletico Madrid – Rangers / Knee.

The Romanian centre-back made a promising start to his career. He played over 150 games for Steaua Bucuresti and Atlético Madrid between 1992-1998 before then moving to Rangers for £2million. In his three years in Glasgow he played precisely zero matches due to a knee injury that he had actually already suffered before moving to the club. A club doctor is reported to have admitted that the deal was rushed through without a medical being completed. He only went on to play 33 more games in the rest of his career.

9. Andy van der Meyde
£2m Internazionale – Everton / Various.

A bright start to his career at Ajax saw the Dutchman move to Italian giants Inter Milan for two years. Having struggled to feature regularly at the San Siro he made the move to Everton in 2005 in order to resurrect a career which had once promised so much. Various injuries and a battle with alcoholism plagued his first season and took their toll on his potential. He would make only 10 appearances in his next three seasons at Everton due to a string of injuries and disciplinary problems. He was released by Everton in 2009 and spent six months in the wilderness without a club before he went to PSV, for whom he made just one appearance. He has since retired from the game.

8. Luc Nilis
Free / PSV – Aston Villa / Leg.

Nilis made just three appearances for Aston Villa, having moved to the club in 2000 after a prolific spell at PSV in which he scored 110 goals in 164 games. Nilis had also played for Belgium 56 times. He managed to score a sublime goal against Chelsea before a collision with Ipswich's goalkeeper Richard Wright resulted in a horrific leg break. He never played again.

Valeri Bojinov
£6m / Fiorentina – Manchester City / Knee  & Achilles.

Within weeks of signing for City in 2007, the Bulgarian forward suffered a knee ligament injury against rivals Manchester United which saw him spend five months on the sidelines. At the start of the next season, almost exactly a year after his first major injury, Bojinov suffered more bad luck when an Achilles injury kept him out for six months. In 2009 he was sent on loan to Parma where he eventually secured a permanent deal. Bojinov made only 11 appearances and scored just two goals for City, that's £3million a goal, in case you couldn't do the maths.

Dean Ashton
£7m / Norwich City – West Ham / Ankle.

Having joined West Ham in the January of 2006, Ashton made 11 appearances for the club in the league in the remainder of that season. That summer, however, Ashton broke his ankle while away on international duty with England. He subsequently missed the whole of the next season. He did return in 2007 at the start of West Ham's next Premier League campaign and went on to play 31 times and scored 10 goals. Just a handful of games into the 2008-09 season, though, Ashton suffered another ankle injury, one from which he would never return. He was forced to retire in December 2009 at just 26.

5. Pierluigi Casiraghi
£5.4m / Lazio – Chelsea / Knee.

The Italian striker came to England in 1998 with 90 career club goals and 44 caps to his name. In his two years at Stamford Bridge he would add just one more goal to his name and never feature for his country again. He played for Chelsea just ten times before a cruciate ligament injury halted his career. Like Luc Nilis, he collided with a goalkeeper, this time West Ham's Shaka Hislop, and he would never play again.

4. Jonathan Woodgate
£13.4m / Newcastle United – Real Madrid / Various.

After impressing at both Leeds and then Newcastle, Woodgate moved to Real Madrid in 2004. He had been hampered by injuries while at St James Park and made the move to Spain still not 100 per cent fit. He did not play at all in his first season at the Bernabeu and then only went on to make at total of 12 appearances at the club due to a seemingly never-ending run of injuries. His début will be remembered for all the wrong reasons as Woodgate managed to impress his new fans by scoring an own goal before getting sent off. In 2007, the year Woodgate left Madrid to return to England, he was voted 'The Worst Signing of the 21st Century' by the Spanish paper Diario Marca.

3. Owen Hargreaves
£17m / Bayern Munich – Manchester United / Knee.

As a consistently solid performer at Bayern Munich for seven years Hargreaves broke into the England team. It was there that he really grabbed the attention of English football fans and, after an outstanding World Cup in 2006, he put himself well and truly on the radar of Sir Alex Ferguson. The next year he was signed by Manchester United for a fee in the region of £17million. Renowned as a tireless worker and tenacious ball-winner, Hargreaves helped United win both the Premier and Champions League in his first season in England. Since that first season, however, Hargreaves has only gone on to make four more appearances for the side meaning that he has cost the club around a little over £600,000 for every time he has stepped out on the pitch.

2. Gianluigi Lentini
£13m / Torino – AC Milan / Head.

In 1992 Lentini became the most expensive player in the world when he moved from Torino to AC Milan for £13million. He helped Milan win the league title in 1993 but after a pre-season tournament in Genoa in 1994 Lentini was involved in a car crash. He suffered a fractured skill, damaged eye socket and was left in a coma. In his next three seasons he rarely featured for Milan and did not add to the 13 caps he had acquired for Italy. His career, which had once promised so much, then faded into relative obscurity as he went on to play for some smaller Italian clubs.

1. Fernando Redondo
£11million / Real Madrid – AC Milan / Knee.

Having spent the prime of his career at Real Madrid, the Argentine midfielder cost AC Milan the tidy sum of £11million when he moved to the San Siro in 2000. He is reported to have suffered the first of his many knee problems (that would ultimately claim his career) just three minutes into his first training session at the Italian club. In his defence, Redondo did suspend his wages while he was unavailable for selection. He did not feature for the side in either of his first two seasons at the club and, in total, only managed 16 appearances before eventually admitting defeat to his persistent knee problems and retiring in 2004.

Thoughts, comments and opinions please...


  1. Anyone remember Paul Lake? Part of Mel Machin's Manchester City team of the late 1980's, he was touted as a future England captain, but he kept getting crocked. Also, maybe Gary Neville wouldn't have got quite as many caps had Liverpool's Rob Jones had to retire early.

  2. Some great picks. Woodgate was probably the most talented English centre-half of his generation, though I might be biased and he definitely. wouldn't like the past tense. For Newcastle fans of a certain age the biggest loss was Tony Green. 33 appearances in black and white stripes between 1971 and 1973 and my dad still goes on about him today. Six Scotland caps, in both the Blackpool and Newcastle Halls of Fame, and ended up on the Pools Panel by the age of 30. Tragic.

  3. It is a pity for Redondo. He was a great player and he was doing pretty good.


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