The worst injuries in football. Choosing a football career can be incredibly rewarding but it comes with multiple challenges. Choosing between your health and success is a tough decision even for the best football players. Read on to see who had the worst and longest injury in football and what it means to the football career of the players.

The worst injuries in football
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Yes, believe it or not, it’s not always just a dramatic performance to try and get penalties. Football is a contact sport and between the high stakes, physical endurance and let’s be honest, riled tempers, it’s inevitable that the game can often get quite ugly.

Football has associated with it some pretty nasty injuries and if you consider the sheer level of athleticism required for longevity in this sport, some injuries can even be career-enders. While victories are always proudly lauded, it’s amazing that the physical costs of football rarely make it into prominent sports news

The worst injuries in football

career ending injuries in football

Tennis has the elbow, American football has the concussion, darts has the beer belly – but what are the telltale ailments of football players? Ultimately, what most of playing football comes down to is running. Lots and lots of running. Running and kicking. So it probably comes as no surprise that sprained ankles are problem numero uno.

Also, football isn’t just about the minimum 90-minute match itself – it takes years of grueling training. And years of running very often leads to dodgy knees. So when you’re impressed that the latest 20-year-old has become a multi-million dollar football scoring machine, bear in mind that his knees are probably closer to 56. 

ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries are also common and can get pretty nasty. The strong tissue that connects the thigh bone to the shin bone – you know, fairly important for a footballer – can get sprained or tear completely. If it’s the latter, it almost always needs surgery. Between the level of complexity and the weeks, if not months, of recovery, a star player can miss his window!

If you ever see a football player in action, even if you have no interest in the game, you can’t help but notice that their hamstrings are jacked. Again, all that running! So hamstring injuries are also not uncommon. Michael Owen, once one of the most lethal strikers in the sport, lost his edge over time due to hamstring problems. 

This one will really make you wince – between racing for the goal or blocking an appointment, there’s a lot of leaping, jumping and diving involved and from time to time, football players can strain their groins! Bit of a downer, so to speak, for the victory party afterward…

So whether it’s an aggressive tackle, a bad fall, or a run-in with Roy Keane, let’s take a look at some of the gnarliest injuries that cost some amazing players their careers in football. 

Check the worst and longest football injuries of all the time

Jack Whilshere was once the new golden boy for Arsenal, even named player of the year in 2011, but alas this rising star lost his shot at football superstardom depressingly early. The very same year he was named best player, he had a nasty ankle injury that put him out of action for over a year.

He still plays but was let go by Arsenal in 2018 and his performance has not been remotely noteworthy since he’s been plagued with ankle problems ever since that first injury. Ronaldo is another example of a slow burn decline. He was slated to be maybe the greatest player ever, but frequent knee injuries sadly made him lose his momentum poetically as well as literally. 

Honourable mention must be given to players Pierluigi Casiraghi, Luc Nilis, Steve Froggatt, and Ben Collette, the latter of whom had his football dreams destroyed at the tender age of 18, courtesy of a challenge by Gary Smith that broke his right leg. At least he was able to claim a generous amount in damages for loss of earnings at the High Court. 

The name may not ring a lot of bells, since this player never got the chance to gain recognition on the court, but David Busst suffered perhaps one of the most horrifying injuries in football history.

It’s remarkable the extent of the damage because if you watch the clip of it happening, it’s over in fractions of a second. Just 2mins into Coventry’s game against Man U, Busst collided with two other players and suffered terrible compound fractures to his right leg. It’s said the goalkeeper actually vomited at the sight of the injury and play was suspended to clean the blood off the pitch.

Busst had to have over 20 surgeries after the fact, leaving his leg quite considerably disfigured. 

Sadly, many football fans can be as fickle as horse race bettors. Do you remember “Oh Ledley, Ledley, he’s only got one knee”… awful! Simple minds might even attribute injuries as an indication of lack of ability, which is of course nonsense.

Genetics plays a big part in things like the deterioration of knee cartilage or other problems, while the rest of it just comes down to bad luck!

How often a split second collision at a match can see a player written off and it’s important to take a moment to appreciate that these young lads often forego education or learning any other trades to fully immerse themselves into football training… only to wind up being forced to retire before age 35! And they commit to surgery after surgery and years of treatment because they don’t want to give up – that deserves a great deal of respect and admiration.


Take a moment to tip your hat to all those players that suffered injuries or continue to struggle with their health now, just to give us the enjoyment of thrilling football seasons. Also, if you think of starting a football career, balance the pros and cons before choosing this path.

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