Top 7 of the Most Serious Injuries in Soccer History

Soccer is one of the most fascinating contact sports on the planet. Its long history includes many extraordinary goals, but also serious injuries that have left millions of people in shock.
Top 7 of the Most Serious Injuries in Soccer History

Last update: 27 May, 2022

The fight, the passion, and the intensity with which each ball is disputed make for a guaranteed spectacle during a soccer match. However, this unbridled impetus also leads to unfavorable consequences in the form of major physical problems. In this regard, we’ve compiled the top 7 most serious injuries in the history of soccer.

There are cases in which the injuries meant 6-month layoffs; in others, the problem left sequelae for the rest of the player’s career. Fortunately, in most scenarios, it was only a traumatic moment that was overcome, even though it remains a chilling anecdote in the convalescent pages of the beautiful game. Do you want to know what players were involved? Keep reading!

The most serious injuries in the history of soccer

Soccer’s most serious injuries form an endless list. However, we’ve selected the most emblematic, disturbing, and most talked-about injuries of all time.

7. Eduardo da Silva (2007-08)

The years go by and the images of the injury of Eduardo da Silva -a Brazilian footballer of Croatian nationality- continue to cause astonishment. The forward was the victim of a hard tackle when while playing for England’s Arsenal team. It all happened in the match against Birmingham, in which Martin Taylor made an aggressive sweep with his cleats in front of him.

The result?

A fractured left fibula.

This forced da Silva off the field for 10 months. Weeks after the injury, Da Silva told the News of the World, “The injury was so bad that I could have lost my leg.”

The truth is that his career continued among teams such as Shakhtar Donetsk, Flamengo, Atlético Paranaense, and Legia Warsaw.

6. Djibril Cissé: Several serious injuries (2004 and 2006)

Most remember Djibril Cissé for his eccentricity, soccer performance, and for two serious injuries he suffered only two years apart. The first occurred in 2004, when he was playing for Liverpool against Blackburn Rovers. A tackle by Jay McEveley resulted in a fractured tibia in his left leg.

Later, in 2006, the center forward was playing a match with France against China and the ghosts of the past returned after an action against Zheng Zhi. The terrible scenario that followed was a fractured tibia and fibula in his right leg.

Despite the chaos, Cissé refused to give up and continued to score goals for Marseille, Sunderland, Panathinaikos, Lazio, Queens Park Rangers, Krasnodar, Bastia, Saint-Pierroise, Yverdon-Sport, and Panathinaikos Chicago.

A person rubbing their calf.
Fractures in the legs involve the tibia, fibula, or both bones at the same time.

5. Alf-Inge Haaland: Serious injuries that led to early retirement (2000-01)

Erling Haaland’s father, Alf-Inge, is also in the top 7 of the most serious injuries in soccer history.

The cause was the dreaded Roy Keane, in the midst of the Manchester United and Manchester City rivalry. The Red Devils captain – with a tackle that he later admitted was deliberate – caused the Norwegian to rupture ligaments in his left knee.

Unfortunately, he was unable to recover satisfactorily after four operations. So, he ended up retiring from playing at the age of 31. A terrible memory that revealed – like many other times – the temperament of United’s former Irish captain.

4. Petr Čech (2006-07)

Goalkeepers are also subject to a lot of friction, mainly in individual duels and corner kicks.

To that effect, Petr Čech, in his long spell as Chelsea goalkeeper, suffered a critical event. In this case, the Premier League opponent was Reading and the fortuitous collision took place with Stephen Hunt, triggering a depressed skull fracture.

There are two main types of skull fractures: Linear and depressed. The former is linked to a minor fracture with an elongated shape, which doesn’t represent a major distortion of the bone. The latter, on the other hand, is of greater complexity, as there it forms a depression in the skull. This is what happened to Čech, who had to recover for three months.

3. Manuel Pablo Garcia (2001-02)

Another of the most serious injuries in soccer occurred in the Spanish league and featured Manuel Pablo, the famous right-back who made his entire career defending the colors of Deportivo La Coruña. In the middle of the match against Celta de Vigo, Everton Giovanella made a sweep to get the ball, but the Arucas-born player was dragged away.

All was silence in the stadium when they realized that Manuel Pablo had a fractured tibia and fibula in his right leg.

At the same time, the player who committed the foul cried inconsolably and then declared: “I want to ask for forgiveness because I never wanted to do this. If only I could take his place…”.

Soccer had to wait 9 months to see Garcia back on the field.

2. Michael Krohn-Dehli (2015-16)

Michael Krohn-Dehli caused the scare of both teammates and opponents when, in the first leg of the Europa League semifinals, playing for Seville, he suffered the fracture and tearing of the lower portion of the kneecap of the left knee. An unnatural twist of his joint caused the incident.

After undergoing surgery, Krohn-Dehli recovered for 9 months but was never again the same decisive player in midfield. His last experience was a free transfer to Deportivo La Coruña, until he decided to end his professional career in 2019.

1. David Busst (1995-96)

We have to go all the way back to 1996, the year in which David Busst experienced his worst moment. The Coventry City defender collided with not one, but two players (Danis Irwin and Brian McClair). The terrible consequence was a double fracture of the tibia and fibula on his right leg.

After the disaster, the drama spread due to staphylococcal infections. The consequence of these events ended his career. In the end, 26 operations were needed to save Busst’s leg.

A digital illustration of osteomyelitis.
Osteomyelitis is a complication of some fractures, with the colonization of bacteria in the bone tissue.

Read also: The Cause of Eden Hazard’s Right Psoas Injury

There are many more serious injuries in the history of soccer

Although some of the players who suffered the most serious injuries in soccer were able to continue playing, after their recovery, the psychological consequences remained for a long time.

As a final consideration, we’ll leave some names of other players who had to quit soccer due to injuries:

  • Marco van Basten
  • Just Fontaine
  • Uli Hoeness
  • Fernando Redondo
  • Sebastian Deisler

We’ll see how soccer as a contact sport evolves to reduce the risk of serious injury over the years. For the time being, physical uncertainty continues to counterbalance the emotional excitement of this sport.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Márquez J, Ramón G y Quiceno C. Lesiones en futbolistas de un equipo sudamericano durante 1 año de seguimiento. Rev Cubana Ortop Traumatol. 2016. Disponible en:
  • Stubbe J, van Beijsterveldt A, van der Knaap S, Stege J, Verhagen E, van Mechelen W, et al. Lesiones en jugadores profesionales de fútbol masculino en los Países Bajos: un estudio de cohorte prospectivo. Tren J Athl. 2015.
  • Wong P y Hong Y. Lesión de fútbol en las extremidades inferiores. Br J Sports Med. 2005.
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  • Olmedilla A, García C y Martínez F. Factores psicológicos vulnerabilidad a las lesiones deportivas : un estudio futbolistas. Revista de psicología del deporte. 2006.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.