Fans name 12 players whose careers were worst affected by injuries

  • Kat Lucas

There is an awful lot of luck involved in professional football.

Staying clear of injury is key to a successful career, but many haven’t had such good fortune.

Goal have posed the question of which players fans would love to be able to redo their careers without the constant interruptions of their spells on the treatment table.

Naturally, there was one name that sprung up time and again.

Any guesses?

Of course. Ronaldo Nazario. The Brazilian Ronaldo. The ‘real’ Ronaldo. Whatever you want to call him, a more fitting description would be ‘the unluckiest footballer of all time’.

Not only was the forward’s career ravaged by knee injuries, it was particularly sad because he had the potential to be one of the all-time greats.

From his elasticos bamboozling defenders to an adhesive first touch, Ronaldo was one of the most gifted finishers ever to grace the pitch.

It’s a blessing that he at least had a World Cup to show for what could have been an even better couple of decades at the top. 

The former Real Madrid and Inter Milan striker wasn’t the only name that cropped up. 

Jack Wilshere

Wilshere burst onto the scene as a teenager who didn’t look out of sorts against one of the great Barcelona sides in the Champions League. It looked as if the world was going to be his oyster and that he had the potential to become an Arsenal legend. That made it hard for the Gunners to part with him but he was eventually loaned out to Bournemouth and latterly ended up at West Ham. 

Abou Diaby

Diaby, much like Wilshere, might have been a staple of the midfield. Instead, he was constantly confined to the physio room. 

Marco Reus

The Borussia Dortmund midfielder has been hopelessly injury-prone. Yes, the German has still had a great career so far but imagine what he might have been capable of. 

Daniel Sturridge

Sturridge came so close to winning the Premier League for Liverpool alongside Luis Suarez. What a partnership. In the end, he was loaned out to West Brom where he failed to score a league goal. His best days are now firmly behind him and it‘s hard to think we won’t be seeing any of his last-minute heroics at Euro 2020. 

Owen Hargreaves

England’s Player of the Tournament at the 2006 World Cup, Hargreaves was superb on his day for Bayern Munich and Manchester United. His body paid the price unfortunately and he left United with a touch of bitterness, then heading to Manchester City. 

Santi Cazorla

Given that he nearly lost his foot altogether, Cazorla is grateful he is still playing football at all. The Spaniard‘s vision was second to none and he deserved to be part of a much greater Arsenal side than he was.

Tomas Rosicky

The Czech knew how to rise to an occasion like few others. Made for the big games, Rosicky never really got to showcase his abilities on a more regular basis as he was practically made of glass. 

Gareth Bale

Now Bale hasn’t exactly had a bad career, has he? Four Champions League titles may not have been enough to win over the Real Madrid fans, but that’s partly been because of a frustration at how often he’s been ruled out. Otherwise, the Welshman might well have stepped up in times of crisis far more often. 

Arjen Robben

Again – not a bad career. In fact, come on. With 29 major honours, it was an absolutely sensational career. One of the very best on his left foot, Robben’s problems began at Chelsea and he had countless niggly injuries throughout his playing days. 

Ledley King

The greatest Spurs defender of modern times. It’s a shame, as the song went, that he “only had knee”. [“He’s better than John Terry”] was the next line and many believe the England international was indeed the most natural defender of his generation. Unfortunately, where the likes of Terry stayed fit, King’s injury problems were so bad that by the end of his career he was unable to train at all in the week – but he’d still put in man-of-the-match performances come the weekend. 

Darren Anderton

‘Sicknote’ became his nickname at Tottenham. Anderton did enough to attract interest from Manchester United nonetheless, a move which he later admitted he regretted not making. Oh, what might have been. 


A bold call. There are many reasons why the Brazilian’s quest to escape Lionel Messi’s shadow failed and his attitude has to be one of them. However, he has also missed numerous PSG games through injury.

At the rate players are getting injured in the current season, it would be a great pity if any current greats were robbed of their potential achievements because their ankles and hamstrings just aren’t in tact for long enough – Harry Kane, our fingers are crossed for you. 

As for the above, we can only look back and dwell on what they might have accomplished in an alternate, injury-free universe. 

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