Soccer players overcome all kinds of injuries during their careers: Injuries befall players or sudden accidents, and then there are players who are born with a trait they have no control over but battle through it. Here’s a quick list of some amazing players who’ve overcome injuries or accidents that could have derailed their entire careers as professional footballers.
Kaka Overcame a crippling injury after breaking his spine in a swimming pool accident a number of years ago. Now he’s the star of AC Milan and Brazil.
“It’s no small achievement being named FIFA Footballer of the Year,” said Kaká, “But I am all too aware that I reached those heights because I had the chance to fully exploit my potential. I strongly believe that every child in the world must have the same right.”
These are fine words, and no doubt genuine sentiments from a player who points to the sky every time he scores. His action is to thank God for his second chance in sports after a swimming pool accident seven years ago that for a time threatened to cripple him through spinal injury.
At 15 he decided to focus his attention entirely on football, but the accident almost ended his dream.
“At that moment, I realised that I had been saved by the hand of God,” he wrote in his diary. Since then, he has been unwavering in his religious faith, and after every latest feat on the football pitch, he never fails to acknowledge his debt to God by raising his arms to the skies.
Lionel Messi The new Maradona, as stated by Maradona himself, Messi is tearing up La Liga at just 18, and set to win numerous trophies for Barcelona and Argentina for years to come.
Having joined La Masia, the youth academy of the Catalan giants at the age of 13, it is now the stuff of local legend that, at 4ft 8in, when he sat on a bench he was the only player whose legs were not long enough to reach the floor. Nicknamed “the flea”, he had been taking hormone injections since the age of 11, when growth problems were first diagnosed in Argentina.
Ruud Van Nistelrooy Ruud has said he’ll always be indebted to Alex Ferguson for waiting for him.
Manchester United almost signed Van Nistelrooy on 25 April 2000 for a fee of £18.5 million. However, the deal fell through when Van Nistelrooy failed a medical due to a cruciate knee ligament injury which he suffered against Danish side Silkeborg on 6 March 2000.
However, Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson persevered and almost exactly a year later, 24 year old Van Nistelrooy signed for a then British transfer record of £19 million on 23 April 2001 from PSV.
Carlos Tevez Tévez has a distinctive burn mark from his right ear, down his neck to his chest. This occurred when he was ten months old while he was exploring his mother’s kitchen floor and he inadvertently pulled a kettle of boiling water over himself. This caused third-degree burns to the right side of his face, neck and chest and left him in intensive care for almost two months. Today, the scars are a highly visible feature of Tévez, who did not get them fixed because he was playing in a junior football team. He refused an offer from his then club, Boca Juniors, to have them cosmetically improved, saying that the scars were a part of who he was in the past and who he is today.
Frank Ribery Other than his exciting style, Ribery’s most recognizable feature is the scar that stretches from his forehead, down the right side of his face and to his goatee — the result of being thrown through a windshield during an auto accident when he was 2.
Life on the field was not smooth, either. He was expelled from Lille’s soccer academy — where young players learn the game and attend standard classes — because of poor study habits. He eventually found his way to the professional level, but wallowed in the lower divisions for years.
Tim Howard The former Manchester United goalkeeper and current Everton goalie, has to constantly battle with Tourette syndromes while trying to parry shots fromt the goal. And to top it all off, Tourettes is more active when you’re nervous, imagine trying to play in a big game in front of 80,000 people whether you have Tourettes or not you’re going to get nervous. See Howard on 60 Minutes.
He says it’s difficult to control when he’s nervous, stressed or anxious. So how does he control it while being a goalie for Manchester United? “Go figure,” he says. “I know. That’s the catch.”
In rare cases, Tourette’s syndrome can cause sudden verbal outbursts and swearing, but Howard doesn’t have those symptoms. He was diagnosed with Tourette’s when he was 9 years old. His mom first noticed symptoms associated with obsessive-compulsive behavior, repeatedly counting and touching and straightening things. But early on, he refused to let the affliction over shadow his ambition — and he has become an activist, trying to dispel the ignorance and myths about the disease.
Did it create problems in school? “Fortunately, I was a big kid. I was a pretty popular kid, and I participated in every sport,” says Howard. “So, it was kind of, like, the only thing they could do was whisper it behind my back.”