Tuesday 10: Freaky ways to get injured (other than playing)

Arsenal's Robin van Persie and Liverpool's Yossi Bennynoon (copyright D. Pleat) have recently used horse placenta to recover from injury. But as Dan Ross discovers, the cure is often much less freaky than the injury...

1. DIY

As in ‘do-it-yourself’. But not as in shelf-fixing – as in surgery.

During his time at Aston Villa, England international striker Darius Vassell was so desperate not to miss a match that he decided to use a power drill to cut through his toenail and drain a blood blister.

The pacy frontman believed that his actions would relieve the build-up of pressure he had sustained, and in fairness, the practice is not uncommon. When performed in a sterile hospital. By a trained professional.

Not in Vassell’s house, by a bloke that regularly fails to hit an 8ftx24ft target.

His attempt showed admirable commitment to the Villa cause, but unsurprisingly Vassell only succeeded in acquiring a nasty infection, sidelining himself for a couple of matches and earning the brilliant nickname of ‘the Aston Driller’.

2. Dropping objects on feet

One of the most common methods of self-harm for footballers, this is, somewhat ironically, most associated with the goalkeeper.

In 1993 the then Southampton custodian Dave Beasant fumbled a jar of salad cream.

Arguably instinctively, and certainly unintelligently, he tried to catch the falling object with his foot and managed to rupture his ankle ligaments in the process, ruling himself out of action for over two months.

Still, he prevented a spill on the kitchen floor…

We. Feel. Physically. Ill.

A similar thing happened to Santiago Canizares before the 2002 World Cup. The bottle-blond keeper gives this tale a more European feel by dropping not condiments but cologne.

When his smellies hit the bathroom sink, shards of glass flew asunder – right asunder Santi’s foot, to be precise – and severed a tendon in his toe.

Canizares was forced to sit out the most prestigious tournament in football – at which he undoubtedly would have been first choice.

3. Cars

Cars are unsurprisingly synonymous with footballers as they desperately try to either find some way of spending their cash surplus, or compensate for something…

Four years into his Aston Villa career, pint-sized player Alan Wright decided (for whichever aforementioned reason) to splash £50,000 on a new Ferrari without thoroughly investigating the practicalities of his extravagant purchase.

Standing only 5ft4in tall, the diminutive full-back struggled in vain to reach the distant accelerator.

He strained his knee in the process and famously downgraded to a Rover 416 shortly afterwards (presumably following a test drive).

In a somewhat less glamorous tale, the goalkeeper of lowly Stalybridge Celtic, Mark Statham, missed a match in 1999 after managing to get his head trapped in a car door.

4. Bathing

Well, washing is tricky, isn’t it? Well, it is to this lot.

The most high-profile shower slip came this summer. Carlos Tevez, the Argentinian striker who for many has come to symbolize the new Manchester City, missed the start of the season because of an injury suffered when he slipped in the shower.

The heel problem aggravated by the mishap meant that he was unable to play a single minute of City's pre-season programme.

Luckily Mark Hughes had signed 15 other strikers that month, although it is rumoured that the Welshman now includes a free bath mat with every signing-on fee.

Former Chelsea ‘keeper Thomas Myhre was another to have a bathing blunder.

Close to recovery after breaking an ankle in training, he had a nasty slip in the bath, somewhat unluckily leading to the breaking of the other ankle.

Back in the day, a toe injury to Kevin Keegan caused him to miss a couple of games.

The affliction was rumoured to have been suffered when ‘King Kev’ managed the royally ridiculous feat of getting it stuck in the tap.

"I can get your toe out, but I can't do much for Acker Bilk"

5. Team-mates

The ineptitude of teammates can often be painful – whether it directly leads to an injury or it frustrates you to the point of self-harm.

Arsenal were celebrating their 1993 League Cup final win over Sheffield Wednesday when Tony Adams decided to lift winning goalscorer Steve Morrow onto his shoulders.

In his excitement, however, Adams promptly dropped Morrow five-and-a-half-feet onto his arm. The resulting fracture ruled Morrow out for the rest of the season – including the FA Cup final.

Peter Schmeichel may at times have seemed mortally offended by the behaviour of the Manchester United defenders in front of him, but not to the same extent as his predecessor Alex Stepney.

So infuriated was he by the hapless helpers protecting him in a match against Birmingham City that he hurled a torrent of abuse powerful enough dislocated his jaw.

According to unconfirmed reports, the warning from history is the reason Shay Given hotfooted it to Man City in January last season: he valued his own health too much.

6. Animals

There is a famous saying you should never work with children or animals, and former Norway star Svein Grondalen is unlikely to disagree.

He decided to go out for a jog, failing to heed the warning that too much exercise is bad for your health.

He was viciously targeted by a moose and the resulting collision caused him to withdraw from an international match in the 1970s.

"I hate joggers, me"

It’s canine capers that seem to cause the most injuries though, with the dogs of footballers failing to live up to their reputation as ‘man’s best friend’.

In the late 1990s, a new puppy put Darren Barnard out of action for five months with a torn knee ligament after the Barnsley midfielder slipped in a puddle of piddle on the kitchen floor.

At least Barnard bounced back. Brentford goalkeeper Chic Brodie had his career brought to an unfortunate end in 1970 when he shattered his patella in a collision with a pitch-invading sheepdog.

7. Children

While Wayne and Coleen may have recently celebrated the birth of little Kai Wayne Rooney, they have obviously ignored the notoriety children have achieved in the world of football.

One experience to make Wayne wince is that of former Sunderland striker Kevin Kyle.

The big Scot was reported to have been walking like another Wayne – John, of Western film fame – after his baby knocked a jug of boiling water over his lap.

The scolding to Kyle’s testes was so bad that he was forced to spend the night in A&E.

David Batty might also warn Wayne.

Well on the way to recovery after a nasty Achilles injury, the tenacious midfielder was run over by his tricycle-loving child and his return to the pitch was put on hold for a few weeks.

Girls often get footballers in trouble.

Former Spurs man Allan Nielsen missed several games after his daughter poked him in the eye, while Republic of Ireland star Alan McLoughlin ruptured his right thumb lifting daughter Megan.

8. TV

There is no better - or safer - way to unwind after a hard day’s training than to put your feet up and relax in front of the television, right?

Wrong, in the cases of several high-profile footballers.

Back in February 2001 Rio Ferdinand, then with Leeds United, was favouring a night in front of the TV over a night out on the town and spent several hours with his £18 million feet resting on a coffee table.

When he came to move, he found he was in big trouble.

He had strained a tendon behind his knee and was subsequently sidelined for the next fortnight.

Republic of Ireland striker Robbie Keane (then of Wolves) ruptured his knee cartilage in 1998 after stretching to pick up his TV remote control, while goalkeeping Davids James and Seaman both pulled back muscles doing the same – the latter trying to tape an episode of Coronation Street.

You have to wonder how they all spent their recovery time…

9. Managers

Fergie Decks Becks! screamed one tabloid in February 2003 after the spectacular bust-up between David Beckham and his then-manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

United’s 2-0 defeat to rivals Arsenal in the FA Cup Fifth Round was too much for Fergie to bear, and he exploded in the dressing room after the match, venting all his frustration on a stray boot.

The footwear in question flew with Beckham-esque accuracy straight into Goldenballs’ delicate mush, opening up a nasty wound that required a whole two stitches.

Cue numerous offers to kiss it better

It was a freakish accident and was in no way aimed at United’s star midfielder, who was subbed in the second half with a leg injury.

As Fergie confirmed after the match – ‘If I could I would have carried on playing, but there is no problem and we move on.’ See, an accident…

The rift between the men could not be healed and Becks joined Real Madrid at the end of the season.

A similar incident took place in 1996 at Grimsby Town, when manager Brian Laws, was so incensed by the performance of Ivano Bonetti in the 3-2 defeat at Luton Town that he threw a plate of chicken wings at him, fracturing the player’s cheekbone.

10. Celebrations

For some, football just wouldn’t be the same without over-the-top celebrations.

For others, like Paulo Diogo, their lives wouldn’t be the same.

Diogo was playing in a Swiss league game in December 2004 and his elation in a late assist to complete Servette’s 4-1 win at Schaffhausen was such that he leapt on a boundary fence to celebrate with the away support.

The recently-wed Diogo missed that his new nuptual ring was caught on the fence until he jumped down ringless. Oh, and fingerless.

Stewards eventually found the finger but, unable to reattach it, doctors had to amputate what portion was left.

Worse still was referee Florian Etter’s decision to book Diogo for over-exuberance, even while he writhed in excruciating pain.

Though Diogo’s injury was horrific, he can take some comfort from the fact that such things happen to everyone - even the usually super-slick Thierry Henry.

After scoring in a Premier League game against Chelsea in May 2000 the French captain ran to the corner flag and caught his eye - almost poking it out and leaving himself requiring medical treatment by the side of the pitch.

Oh, and once upon a time on the Arsenal bench, substitute Perry Groves celebrated a goal by jumping up, headbutting the dugout and knocking himself unconscious.

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