These players came back from horrible injuries to script heroic redemption stories.
Injuries have always been looked at as footballers’ biggest rivals. Several promising careers have been prematurely ruined by injuries, causing scenarios that are hard to see and talk about. Some footballers have been forced to quit the game after career-threatening injuries.
However, there are a few stories emerging out of the rubble that tell the opposite. Several footballers have conquered the threat to script brave careers after battling injuries. Here are 10 of those stories that saw footballers coming back from career-threatening injuries against the odds.
10. Djibril Cisse
After making his way to Liverpool from Auxerre, Djibril Cisse established himself as one of the most dreaded finishers of his time. On 30th October 2004, unfortunately, Cisse suffered a horrific leg injury against Blackburn Rovers, snapping his leg in half.
However, Cisse returned relatively earlier than his anticipated time of absence and hit the pitch running after six months. In addition to scoring in Liverpool’s last league match of the season, the striker also converted his penalty in the 2005 Champions League final that saw Liverpool clinch in a famous comeback against AC Milan.
9. Alessandro Del Piero
One of the most prolific forwards to come out of Italy, Alessandro Del Piero suffered an ACL tear in 1998. It was during this phase that he was at the peak of his powers. His form was expected to dip afterward.
Del Piero’s career, however, was long and fruitful even after the injury. The striker adopted a role that was relatively laid-back and operated as a shadow striker. It was in this role that he helped Italy win the World Cup in 2006 and continued playing until 2015.
8. Roy Keane
It was during the 1997-98 season that Roy Keane, a fierce leader on the pitch for his age, suffered a terrible ACL tear. The injury put the 27-year-old’s career into a huge threat. The injury threatened to end Keane’s illustrious playing career.
However, making his comeback in the never-give-up attitude that he embraced, Keane took Manchester United to new heights. He eventually recovered and was an instrumental part of the side that won the historic treble in the following season.
7. Francesco Totti
Many stories around Francesco Totti, in addition to his footballing prowess, revolve around his loyalty and resilience. One of those stories involves a serious injury he sustained against Empoli at a crucial time before the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Fracturing his left fibula, Totti was in doubt over making it to Marcelo Lippi’s squad. However, with an efficient recovery method in place, the Roma playmaker played a vital role in Azzurri’s triumphant campaign. His injury did not bother him as much after recovery and Totti continued until 2017. He eventually retired at the club he called home for 25 years and is among the highest goalscorers in the Serie A history.
6. Santi Cazorla
Not many footballers can make comebacks from injuries like he did. There was a time when Santi Cazorla was termed a magician in Arsenal’s red and white kit. However, series of injuries always kept him in and out of the ground, until a serious one sidelined him for more than a year and a half. Cazorla needed to undergo eight ankle surgeries to treat the Achilles tendon injury. Doctors considered it to be almost impossible for him to return to the football pitch ever again.
However, Cazorla returned to Villarreal in a grand fashion, leading them to an impressive finish in the 2019/20 season. In addition, the veteran made it to the Spanish national team’s squad yet again, before departing to his current club Al Sadd in Qatar Stars League.
5. Petr Cech
Most football fans associate rugby-style headgear when Petr Cech is mentioned. However, the legendary goalkeeper did not start wearing it as a fashion statement. It was the saving grace that allowed him to continue playing football.
After a horrible skull fracture that made him undergo near-death condition in 2006, Cech started wearing the headgear to protect his head. Much of what Cech achieved as a goalkeeper came after the incident, as he evidently made a comeback winning a Champions League with Chelsea in addition to multiple domestic titles as well as keeping most clean sheets in the Premier League. His redemption story is as inspiring as it gets.
4. Aaron Ramsey
Aaron Ramsey made his impactful presence felt in the Emirates Arena as a 20-year-old and created a name for himself as a playmaker. However, he went through a horrible leg injury that steered him off the pitch for nine long months.
Although it seemed like he was for a short duration, Ramsey’s leg injury was a serious one that could have barred him from hitting the pitch ever again. However, with proper rehabilitation and exposure at Nottingham Forest and Cardiff City, Ramsey made his way back to the Arsenal squad stronger than ever. The Welshman is currently with Juventus after leaving the Gunners in 2019.
Anyone who saw Xavi consistently play 50 plus matches every season would not believe about a horrible ACL tear that he suffered in 2006. The then 25-year-old midfielder, striving to be a midfield superstar, was on the verge of missing out on a full season in the aftermath of tearing the ligament of his left knee
However, the midfielder approaching his peak was on the bench for the victorious 2006 Champions League final and flew to Germany with La Roja for the World Cup. Pep Guardiola’s arrival in 2008 saw him develop into one of the best midfielders ever, going on to win every single major tournament for club and country thereafter.
2. Ruud van Nistelrooy
Manchester United really played a gamble when they signed Ruud van Nistelrooy from PSV Eindhoven. The striker averaged more than a goal per match with PSV Eindhoven, yet ruptured his right ACL before joining the Red Devils.
However, Sir Alex Ferguson put his faith in the striker and signed him the following season. Although the injury concerns were always there, van Nistelrooy converted himself as one of the most clinical finishers of his time – first for United and then for Real Madrid.
1. Luke Shaw
Many considered a comeback to be impossible when images of Luke Shaw’s leg following the Champions League match against PSV Eindhoven circulated around the internet. However, after struggles, Shaw made a name after back-to-back impressive seasons with United after 2019.
On the back of a prolific season that saw him become the backbone of United’s attack from the left, Shaw made it to England’s Euro squad. Scoring a goal in the finals, Shaw scripted one of the most heroic injury comebacks in recent times.