Top ten worst footballing injuries

Posted by - April 20, 2011 - Hard Tackle, Lists

As in Gene Tenace at the plate… iiittt WHAMMY! WHAMMY!

On a day on which we learned that Frazier Campbell of Sunderland may be out for a further year after a second knee operation, and a season when Owen Hargreaves football career looks to be dwindling, OTP looks at some of the nastiest injuries received on the field of play:

10. Henrik Larsson
Larsson suffered his leg break, an injury that will appear as a common theme in this list, in a UEFA Cup game away at Lyon of France.

It was just over two years into the Swede’s Celtic career, and it was initially thought that the injury might force the striker to retire. After significant rehabilitation, Larsson was able to return to make an appearance on the last day of the same season, and be fully fit for the start of 2000/01, ten months after the injury.

More than any other player on this list, Henkie was able to make an incredibly successful comeback from his injury, scoring 35 league goals in 38 games during the following season.

9. Djibril Cisse
Djibril appears on our list both in terms of quantity and quality of major injuries (although I am aware that ‘quality’ is in no way an appropriate term to use).

In October 2004, whilst at Liverpool, Cisse fell awkwardly whilst jumping for header, and managed to break his leg in two places. He made a full recovery.

In June 2006, during a World Cup warm-up for his country, Cisse had his leg shattered in a game against China. He made a full recovery.

For being able to come back from such horrible injuries twice, Djibril deserves his place.

8. Aaron Ramsey
Whether or not Shawcross is indeed ‘that type of player’, the result of his tackle clearly left the defender distraught. Whether or not Stoke City are ‘that sort of club’ they were gracious in their apologies. Whether or not Wenger is ‘that sort of manager’, you can understand his reaction, coming so soon after the Eduardo incident before.

In a challenge Sky Sports Ramsey had suffered a double broken leg in a challenge that could at best be described as ugly. He responded well, however, and was able to play in the reserves nine months after injury.

One word of warning: Fourteen months after the injury Ramsey has only played 78 minutes of first team action at Arsenal, and picked up a groin injury. One hopes that the time out of the game hasn’t left him injury-prone.

7. Alfie Haaland
How Roy Keane avoided criminal action for his foul on Alfie Haaland is one of the biggest questions of the Premier League era. It was high, it was hard, and it was premeditated:

“Even in the dressing room afterwards, I had no remorse. My attitude was, fuck him. What goes around comes around. He got his just rewards. He fucked me over and my attitude is an eye for an eye.”

For the record, his ‘eye for an eye’ was in response to Haaland accusing Keane of playacting.

Despite what Wikipedia will tell you, the challenge weakened Haaland’s knee to such an extent that he was eventually forced to retire through consistent injuries to the same area.

6. Luc Nilis
Things could have been much different. In 2001 Manchester United signed Ruud Van Nistelrooy from PSV, but just a year before Aston Villa had signed Ruud’s mentor at the club, Luc Nilis, and Van Nistelrooy stated that Nilis was the best player he had ever played with. It was an impressive free signing for Villa, even for a striker at 32 years of age.

During his third match for Villa, after scoring in his second, he broke his leg in a challenge with Richard Wright. It turned out to be a serious double leg break (which ones aren’t serious?), and Nilis retired four months later.

Villa Park never got to see how successful the Belgian could have been, and Nilis cruelly never got a chance to show them.

5. Eduardo
The image will remain with us for years to come. Despite Sky again refusing to show the incident, a search on Google for ‘Eduardo injury’ brings up nearly 4.5million results. It was a perfect definition of the arrival of the youtube generation. We all winced at the video.

Martin Taylor was sent off, and Arsene Wenger called for a lifetime ban (a comment which he later retracted).

Eduardo, left with a broken fibula and open dislocation, was out for almost exactly a year. Never really getting back to his best, he moved to Shakhtar Donetsk, where he has started favourably.

4. Ewald Lienen
The first injury on this list occurring prior to the Premier League era, and best described as gruesome.

In 1981, whilst playing for Arminia Bielefeld, Lienen was the recipient of a challenge that was so wild that it ruptured his thigh and femoral artery, resulting in an open deep wound that measured 25cm in length.

Incredibly, despite the shocking nature of the tackle and injury, Lienen was able to begin training less than three weeks after the tackle.

Lienan is now back at Bielefeld as manager, replacing the hard psycho-looking defender Christian Ziege last year.

3. Dave Busst
One of the first high profile ‘sickeners’ of the televised football generation. The injury sustained by Busst was the result of a collision with Brian McLair in a league game against Manchester United in 1996. Goalkeeper Schmeichel was seen to be wretching on the pitch. After the game he was reported to have had counselling for what he saw.

Quite simply an instant career-ender, Busst was initially told he may have to have his leg amputated, and later that he may never walk again. Busst had 26 operations and retired six months after the challenge.

But football can have a heart. Busst was told by Coventry City that he would have a job for life at the club, and is currently the Director of Football in the Community.

2. Abdelhafid Tasfaout
No, you probably haven’t heard of him or the injury.

During the African Cup of Nations 2002, the Algerian captain went up for a header with Diarra of Mali. Due to a clash of heads and heavy fall, Tasfaout lay motionless on the ground.

Many of his team mates thought initially that he had died, and an ambulance was driven onto the pitch. Thankfully (at least in terms of the lesser of two evils) he had suffered a broken nose, fractured jaw and a swallowed tongue.

Tasfaout was able to make a full recovery, but at the age of 33 decided to retire from football.

1. Patrick Battiston
Many readers will have heard of Harald Schumacher, but not the player who was the recipient of the goalkeeper’s disgusting challenge.

Because no foul was given and because it took place in a World Cup semi final, it reaches the top of our list.

The result was just as horrible. The French midfielder was left in a coma, suffered damaged vertebrae, a broken jaw and lost four teeth.

Michel Platini said of the incident: “I thought he was dead, because he had no pulse and looked so pale.”

  • Dean

    Oh come on – Markus Babbel?

    Dude had Guillain–Barré syndrome and was left in a wheelchair for over a year!

  • Dean

    And before some smartarse says it wasn’t a footballing injury – Babbel was told it was a “direct result” of an infection he picked up playing for Liverpool.

  • Matthew Fairgrieve

    Very good point. Guess they were ignoring “ilnesses”

    Another one was Jamie Brooks, former Oxford United player

  • BigHopper

    I remember seeing Battiston go down. It looked bad right from the outset. I wonder how that game might have finished if Schumacher had have been sent off.

  • Morten

    Alf Inge Haaland retired because of an injury to the other knee than that Keane breaked in two.

    Regards from Norway!

  • Stuart

    Sorry, just wanted to point out it’s spelt Brian McClair. Not meaning to be picky.