Mon 09 January 2023 | 11:30

Most injury-prone footballers ever

Nothing might indeed be more irritating for football players than a period on the bench, incapable of going to the field because of recurrent injury, niggles, aches, and pains. Let's review the list of Most injury-prone footballers ever.

Although injuries are a natural aspect of the game, they can have a significant impact on any team or any individual. When a player is injured, it disrupts any arrangements and plans the management has in place.

The manager becomes concerned since the player may have been in difficulty with the team for a few weeks or months, especially if the team is battling for qualifiers or on the verge of finally winning silverware and the player is a key part of the squad.

Injuries can also have serious effects for the player, and in rare cases, a single injury can be so severe that the athlete will never be the same again or will be forced to retire.

However, due to the nature of the game, certain players are just more prone to injury and are the most injury-prone footballers ever, and when they get ill, they appear to spend more time out of football action and their status in the team is jeopardized.

Most injury-prone footballers ever

That said, we've decided to take a look at the careers of some of the leading injury-prone soccer players, who have been and are best buddies with football injuries.

Thiago Alcantara

Thiago Alcantara do Nascimento (born 11 April 1991), also simply known as Thiago, is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as the central midfielder of the Premier League club


and the Spanish National Team and he is also one of the

most injury-prone footballers ever


Raised in Italy as the eldest child of retired player Mazinho, Thiago joined Barcelona at the age of 14 and rendered his first team debut in 2009.

After winning four La Liga titles, the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup in Barcelona,

Bayern Munich

signed for €25 million in 2013.

In Germany, Thiago won 16 titles, including the Bundesliga seven times in a row, and the UEFA Champions League as part of the Continental treble at the club's final year.

In 2020 he agreed to transfer for Liverpool worth £20 million.

After assisting Spain compete in European Championships at the under-19 and under-21 levels, Thiago produced his full international debut in 2011.

He was a member of the provisional team for Spain in the 2014 World Cup, but withdrew because of a knee injury. Thiago was picked for the 2016 UEFA Euro and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

This Spaniard could have made strides in his career if he hadn't been burdened by injuries, being one of the most injury-prone football players of all time.

He may have been one of the finest middlemen on the European scene, but injuries have deprived him the chance to become a crucial figure for both the club and the country.

But even then, Thiago's performance hasn't weakened just like Marco Reus, he's presenting amazing displays every time he's given the chance to grace the soccer field.

Thomas Vermaelen

Thomas Vermaelen (born 14 November 1985) is a Belgian professional footballer who plays as a center-back for the J1 League club

Vissel Kobe

and the Belgian National Team.

As a left-footed, he generally plays left-sided center-back and can play left-back as well. His main traits include aerial strength, leadership skills, and his velocity with the ball at his feet.

He's also renowned for his ability to score goals as a defenseman. And ofcourse, he is among the

most injury-prone footballers ever.

Vermaelen made his international debut for Belgium in 2006, taking part in the 2008 Olympics, where Belgium was fourth, as well as the 2014 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2016 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, where Belgium was third.

The former Arsenal and


Center-back, which had made more than 70 appearances for Belgium, missed a significant amount games due to injury. 

The Belgian did miss much of the 2010-11 season with a big Achilles tendon injury, which later needed surgery, while his ankle and stress fracture also sidelined him afterwards.

As of 2019, Vermaelen had missed 104 matches for Barcelona since joining the Blaugran team in 2014.

On top of that, Vermaelen missed 88 games during his five-year tenure at


, 31 games in the six-year period at Ajax, and 17 Italian games at AS Roma.

However he can be said to be amongst the lucky ones when talking about most injured footballers ever. Having earned the big laurels in Ajax, Arsenal and Barcelona.

Ronaldo Nazario

Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima (born 18 September 1976), commonly known as Ronaldo, is a Brazilian business owner, president of the

Real Valladolid

League club, and a retired professional footballer who played as a striker.

Popularly called O Fenomeno ('The Phenomenon') in Portuguese, he is generally regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and at the same time one of the

most injury-prone footballers ever.

As a multi-functional striker who created a new perspective to the position, Ronaldo has been the inspiration of the next generation of strikers.

His individual achievements include being named FIFA World Player of the Year three times and receiving two Balloon d'Or awards.

Knee's injuries have troubled Ronaldo during his career, dating back to his days as a PSV teenager in 1994.

Despite these struggles, he is still considered to be the best striker of the last 20 years and one of the greatest footballers ever to have played the game.

Ronaldo overcame some fitness issues in the Netherlands and netted 54 times in 58 games for the Dutch club.

After a spell in


, he started to score consistently at Inter between 1997 and 2002.

However, he sustained more injuries in Italy, and they didn't go away completely in Madrid.

Though he endured another serious injury in Milan in 2008, he ended his career as a professional once and for all due to being one of the most injured players in football history.

He returned to Brazil, starting his career at the Corinthian Brazilian club, and finally retired in 2011.

With all of Ronaldo's appearances and major games throughout his career, one can only imagine what he might have done if he was regularly injured-free.

Abou Diaby

Vassiriki Abou Diaby (born 11 May 1986), known as Abou Diaby, is a retired French professional footballer.

He mainly played in a box-to-box role, skilled in both attacking and defending.

Recognized as a player who was "languid, elusive, and athletic" who could either "dribble past opponents or sneak passes to team-mates". 

Of Ivorian heritage, Diaby also had "superb touch" and "excellent close control" Diaby's career has been hindered by multiple repeated injuries, an issue that has existed since his time in France.

He is definitely one of the

most injury-prone football players of all time


Diaby is a retired French youth international with under-19 and under-21 caps. Diaby made his international debut in the UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying match against


in March 2007.

He has represented France at one of the key international tournaments; the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Diaby has taken part in all three group stage matches played by the team as a starter.

There could never have been a more injury-prone football player than Abou Diaby. He's one of the most injury-prone footballers ever and it's a shame to see such a quality player wasting his career in this way.

During his nine-year stay at Arsenal, Diaby had just around 120 league appearances. He managed to play 40 career games in the 2009-10 season, but that was a rare anomaly.

Diaby missed the Champions League final in 2006 with a broken ankle that required several operations to repair it and kept it out for several months.

Since recovering from his ankle injury, the middleman has suffered niggling injuries that have stopped him from playing a full season of soccer.

He was released in 2015 and went to


, but he had scarcely played a game for his new club due to injury. He's a free agent now.

Marco van Basten

Marcel "Marco" van Basten (born October 31, 1964) is a Dutch football manager and a former professional player who played for Ajax and

A.C. Milan

, as well as the Dutch National Team, as a striker.

He is considered to be one of the biggest players in the history of sport as well as one of the

most injured footballers ever


He netted 300 goals in a high-profile career, but played his last match in 1993 at the age of 28 due to injury that compelled him to retire two years later. He was then the head coach of Ajax and the Dutch National Team.

Popular for his tight control of the ball, attacking intelligence, impeccable headers, and brilliant strikes and volleys, Van Basten was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 1992 and won the Ballon d'Or three times in 1988, 1989 and 1992.

At the club level, he won three


titles and the Ajax Cup Winners' Cup, and four Series A titles and three European Cups with Milan.

In 1998, Van Basten was placed sixth in the FIFA Player of the Century Internet poll, tenth in the European Player of the Century election conducted by the IFFHS and 12th in the IFFHS World Player of the Century election.

In 2007, Sky Sports ranked Van Basten first on its list of top professionals who had their careers cut short.

Van Basten is known to be one of the greatest football players in the world. It was disappointing that we weren't able to enjoy watching him play for too long due to him being one of the most injury-prone footballers ever.

His achievements for the Ajax powerhouse led him to AC Milan in 1987, where he won two European Cups to add to his 88th Euro victory for his country.

He was 28 when he played his last game in 1993, with ongoing knee and ankle injuries causing him to call time on his glorious career two years later.

Daniel Sturridge

Daniel Andre Sturridge (born 1 September 1989) is an English professional footballer who has lately played for Perth Glory.

He played in the Premier League with Manchester City, Chelsea, Bolton Wanderers, Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion. He is one of the

most injured players in football history.

Sturridge lasted four years at the Aston Villa Academy before moving to Coventry City. He registered for

Manchester City

in 2003. He kept progressing in City and played in the finals of the FA Youth Cup.

He earned his first team debut in the 2007–08 season, becoming the only player ever to score in the FA Youth Cup, the FA Cup and the Premier League in the same season.

He quit City in 2009 and signed for Chelsea, where he was loaned to Bolton Wanderers for the second half of the 2010–11 season.

After a good run in Bolton, scoring eight goals in 12 games, he returned to


for the 2011–12 season.

For all Sturridge's gifts, he just can't seem to shake off the injury curse that took a lot of play time from him.

The striker has suffered lousy fortune with injury over the years, being one of the most injury-prone footballers ever, which has seen him undergo treatment 48 times.

Gareth Bale

Gareth Frank Bale (born July 16, 1989) is a Welsh professional footballer who plays as a winger for Los Angeles FC and the Wales National Team.

Best known for his ball shooting from a distance, speeding free kicks, and his skill to stride past defensemen, Bale has gained praise from his peers, who characterized him as a football player with "tremendous speed, great crossing ability, a great left foot and exceptional physical qualities".

He is most probably one of the

most injury-prone players in soccer history


Bale made his first international debut in Wales in May 2006, becoming the youngest player to represent the country at that time.

Since then he has gained more than 80 caps and scored 33 international goals, making him Wales' leading scorer of all time.

He was the highest goalscorer for


in their prolific UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, scoring seven goals.

Bale would definitely make every list of most injury-prone footballers ever in Madrid, Gareth Bale had endured a total of 25 injuries – one more than in his six-year stretch in Tottenham.

He also suffered from all kinds of problems at Spurs; in fact, in addition to his 24 injuries, he also had three sickness periods and only played in 203 of a total 323 game at the Premier League club.

Ruptures to his calf, ankle injuries, thigh problems, and tightness in his hamstrings. These are only some of the Bale areas that have been injured since he arrived in Real Madrid in the summer of 2013.

Injury stopped him from really being the leader of Los Blancos and the player that everyone had hoped him to be when he arrived from Tottenham.

Micheal Essien

Michael Kojo Essien (born 3 December 1982) is a Ghanaian former professional footballer who played as a middleman and is currently a member of Danish Superliga club

FC Nordsjælland

's Player/coaching team.

He was also capped more than 50 times by the Ghana National Team and he is one of the Most Injury-Prone Players in Soccer History.

Essien is a retired international in Ghana. At the youth level, he represented his country at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship and the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship, with the latter team finishing second.

Essien made his senior team debut in January 2002 and represented his nation at three African Nations Cup tournaments. Essien also represented Ghana at the 2006 and 2014 FIFA World Cups.

Ex Chelsea midfielder Michael Essen is one of the most injury-prone footballers ever who has seen much more bench and table action than any of his former teammates.

Nicknamed "the bison," Essien was an intense midfielder who never backed down from a tiny bit of excitement. But of course, because of his frequent injuries, we have never seen the best of him on a regular basis.

Ghanaian international has sustained several knee and leg injuries while in Chelsea, and has also encountered stretches of up to six months out of competition.

Essien was also forced to miss the 2010 World Cup, in which Ghana was removed in the quarter-finals against Uruguay.

Jack Wilshere

Jack Andrew Garry Wilshere (born 1 January 1992) is a former English professional footballer who played for England national team. He is one of the most injury-prone football players of all time.

Wilshere went ahead through the Academy of Youth of Arsenal and impressed from an early point. He made his first team debut in 2008, becoming Arsenal's youngest league debutant at the age of 16, 256 days.

Wilshere has won a variety of awards including the PFA Young Player of the Year Award, the 2010–11 PFA Team of the Year Award, and the Arsenal Player of the Season Award, which fans voted for in his first full campaign for Arsenal in the 2010–11 season.

Wilshere is an English international, having already represented his country at under-16, under-17, under-19 and under-21 levels.

He created his senior team debut against Hungary at the age of 18 and 222 days making him the 12th youngest debutant in the history of England.

Wilshere, 27, was once claimed to be the future Arthur Pendragon of English Football, but his aspiration was hindered by a rash of injuries.

After an exceptional performance against Barcelona in the Champions League, he drew rave as a teenager for Arsenal.

However, he failed to meet his absolute potential as continuous knee and ankle injuries affected his growth and weakened his physical attributes, as well as his exodus from Arsenal.

As fabulous as he is, his injuries have made him one of the most injury-prone footballers ever and caused more harm to him and that means that we will never see his very best football again.

Marco Reus

Marco Reus (born 31 May 1989) is a German professional footballer and captain of the Bundesliga club

Borussia Dortmund

and the German national team. As well as one of the most injured footballers ever.

With the German national team, Reus has just 48 caps because of his persistent injuries in recent years.

He missed the 2014 and 2022 FIFA World Cup, but played the 2012 UEFA Euro and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Apart from his left ankle damaged by injuries, another recurrent injury he sustained was a cruciate ligament that troubled him in 2017.

As well as the often complex groin issues that weighted down his career in Dortmund.

When given the chance, Reus can become a fly in the ointment for any opponent, but it's just that fitness has always been a problem for him and injuries have savagely stopped him from representing Germany on the grandest stage.


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