Monday, February 25, 2008

Horrible, horrible footballing injuries

As unfortunate as it was, Edu's awful injury was the inspiration for this gruesome post. I almost threw up several times trying to find footage of all of this, but most of the players involved did recover and resume their playing careers.

I hope the same is true of Edu.

So, in light of his injury, I wanted to put together a list of a few memorable injuries that cannot be purged from the brain. Of all the good things that happen on the football pitch, more often than not it's these images that linger in the brain long after they happen. People still talk about Joe Theismann's injury, some two decades later.

Pictures and videos are embedded below the jump so as not offend the weaker-stomached among you, but if you enjoy seeing limbs acting unusually, head on through.

David Busst, Coventry City v. Manchester United, April 8, 1996
This one is over a decade old, but still unshakeable from the mind. It was an injury that wrecked David Busst's career, and almost caused then-Red Devils goalie Peter Schmeichel to lose his breakfast in the box.

After a corner and flick-on by Noel Whelan, Schmeichel made a great save that fell to the edge of the 6-yard-box, and Busst slid in to try and score on the rebound. Brian McClair and Denis Irwin blocked Busst as he flew in, and this is the end result.

Busst suffered "extensive fractures to his tibia and fibula" of his right leg, and at one point doctors thought they might need to amputate. While in hospital, Busst contracted MSRA [or Mursa] that caused further damage to the leg tissue and muscle.

Despite having 26 operations, Busst retired on November 6, 1996, just 5 years into his playing career. His testimonial at Old Trafford in 1997 was a sell-out, and Busst went on to several lower-league managerial and coaching positions.

[Ed. Note: Busst was also in the news this morning, speaking in the Guardian about Edu's horror injury based on his own experiences.]


Djibril Cisse
Djibril Cisse, the bizarrely-coiffed, pacy French striker, should make the list twice, because he's suffered two awful leg injuries during his playing career. The first was for Liverpool against Blackburn on October 30, 2004, when a speedy romp down the wing was halted by a Rovers defender and his left foot got caught in the turf as he fell.

According to Cisse [via Wikipedia], if he hadn't received prompt attention from the trainers on the pitch, he would probably have lost his leg below the knee. The trainers had to pull the bones back into place with their hands before they could stretcher him off, and after having pins inserted into the leg during surgery, he made a full recovery and played for Liverpool again that same season, coming off the bench on April 13 against Juventus in the Champions League quarter-final, 2nd leg.

His second leg break was just as gruesome. After completing a full come-back [and being included in the French squad for the 2006 World Cup], he broke his right leg during their final warm-up match against China on June 7.

Ten minutes into the game, he was knocked off-balance by Chinese captain Zheng Zhi and fell awkwardly, his right leg twisting underneath him and buckling just above the ankle.

He had surgery that night to repair his fractured open tibia, and spent 6 months in rehab before returning to the field on October 20, 2006.

Cisse has since returned to top-flight football, playing for Olympique de Marseille, although he's been struggling to keep his place in the starting XI. The injuries definitely robbed him of some pace, but he managed 14 goals in 23 appearances for OM in the 06/07 season.

Arguably, Cisse has failed to live up to the success of his pre-Liverpool career, but the bottom line is that he's still playing despite breaking both legs in a 2-year time period. That alone is a sign of his determination and physical ability... when I broke my ankle playing rugby, I sat out for almost a full season.

LFC injury:

France injury:


Henrik Larsson, Celtic vs. Lyon, October 21, 1999
Larsson has enjoyed a great career with Feyenoord, Celtic and Barcelona, but one cold Thursday night in the UEFA Cup, it almost came to a dead halt. Ten minutes into the game, Larsson tried to tackle Lyon defender Serge Blanc, and the rest, as they say, is history.

He did make a full recovery eight months later, and did great things during the rest of his tenure with Celtic, scoring 173 goals in 221 appearances in 7 years with the club. After 2 reasonable seasons with Barca, he scored 19 goals in one season with Helsingborgs IF in Sweden, and spent 2007 on loan with Manchester United.


Luc Nilis, Aston Villa vs. Ipswich, September 9, 2000
Thankfully, due to the especially brutal nature of this one, there isn't any video that I can find of Nilis' career-ending injury, but the picture says it all.

Four minutes in [why do all these awful injuries seem to happen so early in the match? Not warming up properly? What is it] to the EPL encounter at Ipswich, Nilis collided with opposition goalie Richard Wright over a loose ball, and promptly broke his leg in two places. He was approaching the end of his career before the injury, but the painful rehab and grim outlook forced him to pack it in early on September 23, 2000, after taking advice from his doctors.

Nilis had enjoyed a phenomenal career in Belgium and Holland, scoring 127 goals in 224 games for Anderlecht from '86-'94, and 110 goals in 164 games for PSV Eindhoven from '94-2000. He was capped 56 times by the Belgium, and this injury occurred in just his 3rd game for Aston Villa.


Alan Smith, Manchester United vs. Liverpool, February 18, 2005
The young Yorkshire striker is the only person on this list who was not injured by a tackle or a fall; in this instance, it was a ball that did the damage.

During the dying minutes of a tense FA Cup tie at Anfield, with Liverpool leading 1-0, Smith threw himself in front of a John Arne Riise free-kick and took the full force of the shot on his left leg, breaking the leg and dislocating the ankle.

The injury was gruesome enough, requiring significant medical attention while still on the pitch, but it was made worse by the terrible actions of some Liverpool supporters who attacked the ambulance as they tried to drive Smith to the emergency room.

Smith made a full recovery but has never really enjoyed much personal success; he managed 7 goals in 61 games for Man U, and has started 24 games for Newcastle this season [not surprisingly, without scoring a single goal].

5 comments:

ΓΌ75 said...

Wow, that Nilis injury is amazing.

The Fan's Attic said...

This is brutal. I can't even take it all in at one reading.

Precious Roy said...

Wow. Just... wow.

MoonshineMike said...

I won't watch the videos. Sorry, too gnarly.

The NY Kid said...

You're all amateurs. I made sure to eat lunch before watching the videos.

Now excuse me while I go lose it.