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Famous World Cup Injuries

For the first time in living memory (bar a slight concern over Marcus Rashford), England is approaching the World Cup injury free. To celebrate, we thought we’d do a rundown of some of the most famous World Cup injury worries, scares, and gambles – some of which paid off, and some which didn’t.

  1. David Beckham, 2002 – this was the first time many people had heard of a metatarsal. The world waited to see if Becks would be fit after breaking a tiny bone in his left foot ahead of the Japan/ Korea World Cup. He made it and scored the only goal in the game against Argentina, lashing in a penalty.

  2. Wayne Rooney, 2006 – suffering a similar fate to Beckham, Rooney fractured his metatarsal and his recovery was due to last until around the time of England’s first game. Rushed back into the team he didn’t perform well at Germany 2006, but then neither did the rest of the team.

  3. Jimmy Greaves, 1966 – he recovered from hepatitis in the ’65 – ‘66 season to make the squad and scored four goals in the final warm up game against Norway, only to suffer a gash on his shin requiring 14 stitches and missing the quarter finals. He was fit for the final but Sir Alf chose Geoff Hurst and the rest is history.

  4. Gary Lineker, 1986 – sustaining a fractured wrist in a warm-up game against Canada it looked like Lineker’s World Cup was over before it had begun. However, playing on with a light cast he went on to win the golden boot before England were knocked out by Argentina and Diego Maradona’s infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal.

  5. Bryan Robson, 1986 – known as Captain Marvel to all Man U fans, Bryan Robson was the engine in the middle of the England midfield. Three months before the World Cup he dislocated his shoulder for the second time in a match against West Ham. As we know with shoulders, when they have gone once, they will go again. The country held its breath with every challenge and in England’s second match the inevitable happened and his World Cup was over.

  6. Kevin Keegan, 1982 – having failed to qualify for the 1974 and 1978 World Cups, the 1982 World Cup in Spain was the twice winner of the Ballon d'Or’s chance to shine on the international stage. However a back injury meant the England captain only played 26 minutes as a substitute.

  7. Ashley Cole, 2010 – arguably the world’s best left back in 2010, Ashley Cole broke his left ankle in a challenge with Everton’s Landon Donovan. Facing a race to be fit, the Chelsea defender had extra motivation for South Africa 2010 as the first game was against Donovan’s USA team. The game ended 1-1 following a howler from keeper Robert Green.

  8. Michael Owen, 2006 – the third appearance for those pesky metatarsals! Breaking his fifth metatarsal on 31 December 2005, the striker managed only one substitute appearance in the next five months. However, he was selected for the team and came through three World Cup warm-up games and two games in the finals, only to then suffer an anterior cruciate knee ligament injury during England's 2-2 draw with Sweden.

  9. Bryan Robson, 1990 – the only player to appear twice in the list, he had a tendency to pick up a knock or two due to his ‘do or die’ style of play. Captaining England in the lead up to Italia ‘90 it looked like he might start a tournament injury free, but little did we know he had both Achilles and toe issues. Cue the arrival of England’s first (but not last) faith healer. Robbo was replaced by David Platt, who we seem to remember did rather well!

  10. Gordon Banks, 1970 – fresh from making ‘that save’ in England’s group match against Brazil, Banks was widely regarded as the world’s best goalkeeper. In the quarter-finals England would face West Germany but in Banks we trust, that is until he keeled over in the team talk with a mysterious stomach bug. A lot has been made of what might have caused the illness and whether it was accidental or not, but one that’s for sure is Banks’ replacement, Peter Bonetti, had a game to forget. This might not have strictly been an injury, but it was certainly notable!

Here’s wishing a successful – and injury free – World Cup for the England squad!

Whether you’re a professional footballer or not, if you do suffer a sport’s related injury, we have a team of sports experts on hand at LivingCare, who have worked with Commonwealth and Olympic athletes.

To find out more about the services we offer, or to book an appointment with one of our specialists, please call 0113 397 0981 and a member of our team will be happy to help.


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