With the 2018 FIFA World Cup fast approaching, we at Carrybeans have got all things football on our minds.
by Emily Mary Chin, Carrybeans
In football, your legs are your bread and butter. With the amount of money at stake for a world class footballer, the risk of career-ending injuries is an almighty feared one. And they’re really a lot more common than you think.
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Luc Nilis was a top-scorer in the Dutch football league when he was playing for PSV Eindhoven. But it was only his third appearance with Aston Villa in 2000 when the team played against Ipswich Town. And it was this game where he sustained the injury that inevitably ended his football career. Nilis broke his right calf in two places when he collided with Richard Wright, the Ipswich goalkeeper at the time.
The injury and infection was so severe that at one point, doctors were considering the possibility of having to amputate his leg. That ended up not happening but despite that, his injury did force him to retire from professional football a few months later.
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Probably the most infamous of all career-ending injuries is the one that ended David Busst’s. He was playing for Coventry City against Manchester United in 1996 when the accident occurred. It was only 87 seconds into the game. The injury came out of a collision with Bryan McClair and Denis Irwin, both players of the opposing team. The impact of the two forces from different directions resulted in severe compound fractures to the tibia and fibula of his right leg. It took 12 minutes to clear all the blood away.
I knew something serious had happened; something wasn’t in the place it should have been. I could see from the reaction of people around me… They would have seen my right shin coming up at an ‘L’ shape when it should have been straight down.
– David Busst on his career-ending injury
The injury was so bad that Manchester United goalkeeper, Peter Schmeichel, who had front row seats to the whole incident, had to leave the field to throw up. Busst had 14 operations in the first six weeks and another 12 in the two years following. But it was only seven months after the initial incident that Busst finally announced his retirement from the sport.
This next incident on the list of career-ending injuries is unique in that it is the only one that may have come out of an act of vengeance. The saga first began in a game between Leeds United and Manchester United in 1997. Haaland, playing for Leeds at the time, collided into Keane. The collision resulted in severe injury of Keane’s anterior cruciate ligament and a nine-month hiatus from football. Unaware at the time, Haaland proceeded to taunt Keane, suggesting that Keane was only faking injury in order to deceive the referee.
Keane seemingly never forgot as four years later, he got his revenge. In a Manchester derby match in 2001, Keane tackled Haaland—now playing for Manchester City—ultimately ending his career with a blow to his knee. Later, Keane showed very little remorse, claiming it was his intention all along.
Let him know that I remembered. Even in the dressing room afterwards, I had no remorse. My attitude was, f*** him. What goes around comes around. He got his just rewards. He f***ed me over and my attitude is an eye for an eye.
– Roy Keane on why he tackled Alf-Inge Haaland
After the incident, Haaland only played an accumulated 48 minutes of football before retiring altogether two years later.
With great success comes great risk and the same rationale applies to professional football players. As seemingly perfect as their lives may seem and as much as we may aspire to be them, their everyday is shadowed with risk and uncertainty. Career-ending injuries are a constant source of fear for them. One wrong move can dictate their entire career, if not their entire future.
Football players aren’t the only one with risks! There are many health risks associated with World Cup fever. Read some of the symptoms here.
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