The strangest football injuries

Football player being stretchered off

Following the revelations that Enner Valencia could miss West Ham’s trip to Arsenal this weekend after cutting his toe by walking on a broken tea-cup, here’s a run through some of the more bizarre football injuries to have befallen our handsomely-paid idols.

Any injury to a sportsman is no laughing matter, particularly those who earn their living as professionals. However, down the years there have been more than a few injuries sustained by professional footballers that elicited more than a few chuckles, and not just at the clubs where those players plied their trade.

Searching the archives, as well as personal memory bank, many of the instances of curious injuries seemed centred on goalkeepers. Coincidence? I’ll let you be the judge of that.

I think the all time best accolade was, for me, the domain of Dave Beasant. Was being the operative word, but you have to read further. Dave was best known for his antics as the last line of defence for the Crazy Gang that was Wimbledon FC. However in 1993 he was with Chelsea, but had to miss several games after he went to the fridge and dropped a 2 kilo jar of mayonnaise on his foot, severing a tendon in his big toe.

Michael Stensgaard, an Under 21 Danish international and lauded as a successor to Peter Schmeichel, was signed by Liverpool in the 1990s but his career was ended by a freak injury that occurred in the most bizarre of circumstances. He was reaching for the ironing board in his Southport home when he injured his shoulder. Naturally he took a bit of stick for what turned out to be more complex than a consequence of domestic chores.

Stensgaard had actually injured his shoulder in training and was in the process of trying to rebuild the muscle. Reaching for the ironing board simply put too much strain on the shoulder which was weak, and out went the joint. Repeat dislocation of that particular joint is never good news for a goalkeeper and eventually Michael had to retire.

Even more bizarre was the injury sustained by Paris St Germain goalkeeper Lionel Letizi in 2002, while playing Scrabble. He was reaching for a letter he had dropped and pulled a muscle in his back. Another custodian, Santiago Canizares, missed the 2002 World Cup finals after he severed a tendon in the big toe of his right foot after dropping a bottle of aftershave, from which a shard of glass penetrated his skin. Meanwhile, England and Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman required surgery after he pulled a muscle while reaching for the television remote control to record Coronation Street.

Time to move away from the Goalkeeper’s Union and pick up the thread of outfield players whose, shall we say, decision making left a lot to be desired.

Former Aston Villa forward Darius Vassell, in 2003, must have rapidly come to the conclusion that choosing football over medicine was maybe a good career move. It seems that in attempting to drain off a blood blister on his foot, with a power drill, he had to have a portion of his nail removed, by a proper doctor, after remembering his chosen profession had nothing to do with surgery.

Sorry but the one at which I couldn’t stop laughing and the one, sorry Dave, which ousts Dave Beasant from the all-time number one occurred back in the 1970s.

Svein Grondalen was a Norwegian international, hard man and feared tackler. He was capped 77 times by his country. It would have been 78 but he had to miss one game for Norway after he was the victim of a stray moose when he, the player that is, was out on a morning training run through a forest.

You can’t really follow that, can you?

By
Longest serving freelance football reporter for Sky Sports, 1,000+ games. Author of Breedon Book of Premiership Records and Three Lions.
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