When talent is wasted through ill-discipline, laziness, lack of application and direction football fans are not particularly forgiving. In contrast there can be no greater shame than seeing a gifted player’s career cut short or disturbed through injury. Below are ten players who were forced into premature retirement or have seen more of the treatment table than the pitch.
The former Aston Villa centre-back retired from football last year after sustaining a knee injury in January 2009. Faced with a major operation and a long period of rehabilitation the ex-Milan player who had previously suffered with knee injuries decided to hang up his boots. He had been at Villa Park for five years and was the club captain.
Soon after turning 26, West Ham striker Dean Ashton announced his retirement from football. He had failed to fully recover from an ankle injury suffered during an England training session in 2006. After returning the following season he scored 11 times and earned another England call-up. But the superb finisher experienced a reoccurrence of the ankle injury at the start of the 2008/09 season and never played again.
Speculation is rife that Woodgate will be forced to retire unless he undergoes surgery on his injured groin. The former Madrid defender who has battled against injuries throughout his career has not featured for Tottenham since November last year. The player who has visited specialists across the world in an attempt to solve his groin problem is not expected to be named in Harry Redknapp’s 25-man squad.
Another injury ravaged player set to be a victim of the Premier League’s new rules is Manchester United’s Hargreaves. Sir Alex Ferguson is said to be greatly concerned over his chances of recovering from a career threatening knee condition. The midfielder who was sorely missed at the World Cup has made one substitute appearance for the club since undergoing double knee surgery in December 2008 and January 2009.
The West Ham United winger who signed from Newcastle in 2007 broke his leg shortly after moving south to east London. He has recently been dogged by a series of hamstring injuries and co-owner David Sullivan suggested he was a player who may have to accept retirement. Having made only his eighth start for the Hammers on Saturday, he will be hoping to prove his critics wrong.
The Wolverhampton Wanderers keeper had to accept retirement from football earlier this week. This followed an unsuccessful battle to return to playing after rupturing his patella tendon. Mick McCarthy believed the 29-year old could have been an England regular.
The Tottenham stalwart continues to struggle with a long-standing knee problem which has restricted his playing time. The defender previously came close to retirement but has managed to assuage his persistently troubled knee. King is put through less combative training techniques and is often rested when games come thick and fast. Due to his immense talent it is a situation tolerated by Spurs and their fans.
Another chronic knee complaint forced the former Liverpool and Tottenham captain Jamie Redknapp to retire in 2005. Dr Richard Steadman, whose books are full of crocked footballers, told the midfielder that his career was over. Injury had also ruled the player out of the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.
Players who have graced White Hart Lane are propping up this list and perhaps the most infamous is the man labelled with the nickname, ‘sick note.’ Anderton played for a host of clubs, most notably Spurs but was beset by a range of injuries. Despite groin and Achilles trouble he made over 30 appearances for England. The unlucky midfielder retired two years ago, finishing his career with Bournemouth.
After sustaining a ruptured hamstring in the Carling Cup final last season, Owen dismissed suggestions that he is cursed by injury. The former Liverpool, Madrid and Newcastle forward has vehemently rejected his injury prone tag. The label has stuck for the goal-scorer who bizarrely ruptured his anterior cruciate knee ligament against Sweden at the 2006 World Cup.
Any Glaring Omissions?
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