Adding in­sult to in­jury

Ham­burg’s Muller lat­est in long line of soc­cer’s freak ac­ci­dents

Global Times - Weekend - - SPORTS - By Jonathan White

The com­monly held view among fans and the me­dia is that the mul­ti­mil­lion­aires we pay to watch play top-level soc­cer are not ac­tu­ally that smart. While much of that view comes from jeal­ousy at see­ing young men in their phys­i­cal prime live out our shared dreams and reap the re­ward that brings, there is also an ar­gu­ment to sug­gest it’s a view that is not a mil­lion miles from the truth.

Ham­burg winger Nico­lai Muller is the lat­est soc­cer player to give cre­dence to the no­tion. The player marked last week­end’s sea­son opener against Augs­burg with a goal and headed to the cor­ner to cel­e­brate – putting plenty of gusto into his dou­ble pirou­ette and jump at the cor­ner flag. Sadly, he landed awk­wardly and will sit out at least six months of games for his side thanks to a rup­tured cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment. He is not the first player to be­fall in­jury while cel­e­brat­ing.

He could ask Martin Palermo, Shaun Goater or Paolo Diogo. Palermo cel­e­brated scor­ing in ex­tra time of a Copa del Rey game for Vil­lareal by head­ing to the crowd only for a wall to fall on him, which broke his leg and en­sured he missed the 2002 World Cup. Goater and Diogo were not even cel­e­brat­ing scor­ing them­selves, with Diogo los­ing a finger when his wed­ding ring caught on the fenc­ing – to add in­sult to in­jury he was booked by the ref­eree and also lost the finger.

At least their in­juries were all sus­tained on the pitch. Ein­tra­cht Frankfurt’s Guillermo Varela was ruled out of last sea­son’s Ger­man Cup fi­nal on ac­count of an al­ler­gic re­ac­tion to a tat­too that he got in the days lead­ing up to the game. The on-loan Manch­ester United man was sus­pended by his Ger­man club and has since re­joined for­mer club Pe­narol back in his na­tive Uruguay. Last sea­son, Chelsea keeper Thibaut Cour­tois missed the FA Cup semi­fi­nal be­cause he had in­jured him­self play­ing bas­ket­ball in aid of an ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign for the NBA.

Keeper calami­ties

Cour­tois could only be blamed for ea­gerly ful­fill­ing his club’s com­mer­cial com­mit­ments. When Santiago Canizares, then at the height of his pow­ers as Va­len­cia goal­keeper, was ruled out of the 2002 World Cup in Ja­pan and South Korea be­cause he had sev­ered a ten­don in his foot due to a dropped bot­tle of af­ter­shave while in the team’s train­ing base in the runup to the tour­na­ment. The 32-year-old lost his place to Real Madrid’s Iker Casil­las, who was first choice as Spain be­came the dom­i­nant force in in­ter­na­tional soc­cer.

Goal­keep­ers have had it bad with re­gard to freak in­juries. Chelsea keeper Dave Beas­ant tried to trap a bot­tle of salad cream and missed the start of the 1993-94 sea­son, again with a sev­ered ten­don, while Manch­ester United stal­wart Alex Step­ney once shouted at his play­ers so much in one game against Birm­ing­ham City that he dis­lo­cated his jaw. Cra­zier still, for­mer Eng­land goal­keeper Richard Wright man­aged the dis­tinc­tion of be­ing in­jured once by fall­ing out of his loft and also once while trip­ping over a sign warn­ing him to keep off the grass dur­ing a warm-up.

Two other for­mer Eng­land goal­keep­ers, David Sea­man and David James, missed games be­cause of re­mote con­trol-re­lated in­juries – not too out of this world con­sid­er­ing both Alessan­dro Nesta and Rio Fer­di­nand were once out in­jured be­cause of in­juries picked up while play­ing soc­cer video games. Even the Ger­mans have seen goal­keep­ers pull up with bizarre ail­ments. Michael Rens­ing, at Bay­ern Mu­nich at the time, got into trou­ble ty­ing his shoelaces. Worse still, he once kept fel­low keeper Oliver Kahn out after giv­ing him a black eye with a shot dur­ing their warm-up.

You don’t even need to be a goal­keeper by trade. Pity poor Emer­son: the Brazil­ian mid­fielder missed the World Cup in 2002 be­cause he dis­lo­cated his shoul­der while play­ing in goal in a train­ing ses­sion. Need­less to say Brazil won the tour­na­ment. It could have been worse. Brent­ford keeper Chic Brodie’s ca­reer was ended after col­lid­ing with a dog that had got onto the pitch. Rochdale keeper Neil Ed­wards got off lighter with a more un­usual pitch in­vader – he was bit­ten by a goose that had got­ten onto the Glan­ford Park pitch in his side’s 2004 game with Scun­thorpe but man­aged to com­plete the game after treat­ment.

Do­mes­tic dan­gers

An­i­mals are a clear dan­ger even if they are not on the field of play: David James once got in­jured while fish­ing, cur­rent Hull City man­ager Leonid Slut­sky moved into coach­ing be­cause his ca­reer ended at 19 after he fell from a tree res­cu­ing a cat and Dar­ren Barnard of Barns­ley tore his lig­a­ments slip­ping on his new puppy’s urine. Stoke mid­fielder Liam Lawrence missed sev­eral months after trip­ping over his pet dog and de­lighted sube­d­i­tors by scor­ing the win­ner against Black­burn Rovers on his re­turn.

Read­ing striker Leroy Lita man­aged to hurt him­self stretch­ing in bed, which is some­how less ridicu­lous than Eng­land cap­tain Bryan Rob­son miss­ing the 1990 World Cup after hav­ing a bed dropped on his foot dur­ing some ho­tel hi­jinks. An­other Eng­land in­ter­na­tional, Alan Mullery, missed his coun­try’s 1964 tour of South Amer­ica after in­jur­ing his back while brush­ing his teeth. The home and ho­tels are not a safe place. Michael Stens­gaard’s Liver­pool ca­reer never took off after get­ting hurt set­ting up the iron­ing board.

Both Ar­se­nal leg­end and Aussie keeper Frank Talia came a crop­per to lawn mow­ers while Rangers striker Kirk Broad­foot missed a game after eggs he cooked in the mi­crowave scalded his face. Kevin Kyle suf­fered worse: The Sun­der­land striker burned his tes­ti­cles and thigh try­ing to warm milk for his young daugh­ter. Kids are a dan­ger on their own. Sean Flynn and David Batty got in­jured on toys while Al­lan Nielsen missed a run of Spurs’ games after his daugh­ter poked him in the eye.

Eyes have been to blame for some bizarre in­juries. Jari Lit­ma­nen was once ruled out after a ring­pull from a can of Coke hit him in the eye, and Mi­lan Ra­paic missed the start of a sea­son after pok­ing him­self in the eye with his board­ing pass. Ra­paic’s misfortune def­i­nitely falls into the cat­e­gory marked en­tirely self-in­flicted and he is in il­lus­tri­ous com­pany. Shinji Ka­gawa missed a Manch­ester United game be­cause of overeat­ing, Dar­ius Vas­sell took a drill to his toe in an at­tempt to drain a blood blis­ter and Brazil­ian striker Ra­malho was once bed-rid­den after swal­low­ing a sup­pos­i­tory. Per­haps the great­est self-in­flicted in­jury was Ever Banega run­ning him­self over with his own car while try­ing to fill up at a gas sta­tion. He broke a leg and missed six months.

Photo: IC

Ham­burg winger Nico­lai Muller re­acts after in­jur­ing him­self while cel­e­brat­ing scor­ing against Augs­burg on Au­gust 19 in Ham­burg, Ger­many.

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