These players never really managed to reach their full potential.

Football is one of the most taxing sports in the world. It takes a huge mental and physical toll on any athlete playing it at a professional level. Sometimes the toll is too heavy hampering and ruining careers. Injuries have affected the professionals playing the sport at the highest levels. Every often a new star emerges with the potential to win over the world. But these footballers suffer serious injuries at times, leaving us with the question, what could have been?

So we take a look at the five footballers whose careers were destroyed due to injuries.

5. Daniel Sturridge

Sturridge shined at Liverpool alongside Luis Suarez (Courtesy: This Is Anfield)

The England footballer was a special player in his prime. The forward terrorized Premier League defenders with his skills and goal threat. Alongside Luis Suarez, he formed a lethal partnership for Liverpool in the 2013/14 season.

The duo took the Reds closer to a maiden Premier League title win. But only managed second place in the end. Daniel Sturridge was at his best that season. He bagged 25 goals and nine assists from 33 games. However, failed to reach similar heights after that.

Consistent thigh, hip and calf problems kept limited Sturridge’s game-time. He was unable to recover from these injuries. The Englishman, now 32, plays for Perth Glory in Australia.

4. Mario Gotze

The German is one of the footballers who career has been hampered by injuries. He was at the top of world football in 2014. He had scored the winning goal in the World Cup final and secured a move to Bayern Munich. However, the midfielder never reached those heights again.

Mario Gotze failed to live up to the expectations at the Bavarian club. He suffered multiple injuries which limited his impact. The German moved back to Borussia Dortmund in 2016. He was then diagnosed with myopathy a year later. The metabolism disorder was said to be the root cause of his fitness issues.

The midfielder was one of the best in the world in his prime. But injuries robbed him of maintaining that for a sustained period. Gotze currently plays for PSV Eindhoven in Netherlands.

3. Jack Wilshere

The former Arsenal man suffered with fitness issues (Courtesy; Sky Sports)

Coming through the youth academy of Arsenal, the English man was held in high regard. Jack Wilshere was termed as the next best midfielder from England. However, injuries hampered his progress.

Wilshere displayed his quality when he dominated Barcelona in 2011. He outshone a midfield consisting of Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets. However, ankle issues prevented him from fulfilling that potential.

The England midfielder never shook off those fitness issues. This saw his game-time become limited at Arsenal. Same troubles followed him at West Ham and Bournemouth.

2. Alexandre Pato

The Brazilian made his professional debut at the age of 16. He dominated the domestic league in Brazil, earning a move to AC Milan. At 18 years of age, he scored 18 goals in his first season at the Italian club. This saw him win the Golden Boy award. The forward also led the club to a Serie A title in 2011, their last league success.

Alex Pato had made a great name for himself in his young career. He was one of the most feared forwards in the world. However, injuries kicked in and derailed the footballer’s promising career. The Brazilian was never able to recover the form he once showed.

He had short spells at Chelsea and Villarreal. However, the move didn’t materialise with great success. Pato currently plays for Orlando City in MLS.

1. Ronaldo Nazario

The Brazilian is one of the greatest ever in the history of the sport. But one still question remains, how much better could he have been? Ronaldo dealt with a number of fitness issues throughout his career.

While playing for Inter Milan, he suffered a ruptured tendon. He spent the best part of two years away from the game due to a recurring knee injury. This issue troubled him for the rest of his professional career.

Despite the issues, Ronaldo is among the best of all time. He won multiple honours in various leagues and with the national team. The striker also won the FIFA World Player of the Year thrice and Ballon d’Or twice.

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