Football, like no other sports, is filled with some of the most passionate athletes on the planet. Their will to play for some of the greatest clubs exceeds far beyond our expectations. A game that symbolizes unity and strength, we as fans can only enjoy it.
When it comes to elite-level performance, a football player must give it all, both physically and mentally. Injuries are part and parcel of the game as the sport is an extremely demanding prowess.
Some of these world-class stars, however, have had severe medical conditions, yet they have stepped foot on the football field and have delivered a performance like none other.
From Petr Cech, who still tends to protect his wounds from the 2006 clash against Stephen Hunt to David de Gea, who battled farsightedness and became one of the best goalkeepers in the world, it is inspirational how these athletes have risen above their shortcomings.
Here are five footballers who have played with some of the most serious medical conditions.
5. Edgar Davids - Glaucoma
One of the most recognizable footballers of his generation, Davids is often regarded as one of the greatest defensive midfielders of his era. Nicknamed 'pitbull' by Louis Van Gaal for his robust and commanding style of play, he is known to have shared ranks with the likes of Patrick Vieira and Claude Makelele as some of the most versatile midfielders ever.
A noticeable factor is that the former Juventus legend was seen wearing glasses almost all the time while he was playing. This was due to a medical condition called Glaucoma, where the optic nerve in the eye gets damaged due to genetic or other reasons, limiting the vision. The condition has no particular cure and can only be controlled.
Still, Davids, managed to play most of his career without letting his performance falter due to the Glaucoma, proving that he is a powerful personality.
4. David de Gea - Myopia
One of the best goalkeepers at the moment, the Spaniard's skills as a goalkeeper are excellent. The kind of reflexes and awareness he shows is a factor that has helped him evolve as a goalkeeper.
His tall stature and leadership qualities make him one of the most influential goalkeepers of his particular generation. A strange fact, though, De Gea possessed all these qualities with a condition known as Myopia. He has worn glasses almost all his life.
Interestingly enough, his start at Manchester United wasn't quite what we'd expect, as he continued to perform with a string of errors. After further tests done by Manchester United Optometrist, it was proven that De Gea had vision issues.
However, Sir Alex Ferguson didn't want to take any chances and booked the Spanish goalkeeper for a laser surgery in the summer of 2012. Since then, De Gea has only become better and has cemented his legacy as one of the greatest goalkeepers in the world.
3. Paul Scholes - Blocked vein in the right eye
With 11 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, 2 League Cups, and 2 UEFA Champions League trophies, Scholes is considered as one of the greatest, most decorated English midfielders of all time.
The Manchester United legend has played for almost two decades, appearing in over 700 games for the Red Devils and scoring more than 150 goals. The greatest surprise, though, is the fact that he played a part of his career with one bad eye.
"There was a time when I used to see 4 balls progressing towards me, it was confusing. Trust me" - Scholes on his blurred vision.
After consulting several doctors, Scholes was diagnosed with a blocked vein, which caused internal bleeding in his right eye. He underwent a surgery that required more than ten sessions due to the complexity of nerves in the eye.
Scholes returned in 2006 after six months and participated in one of the greatest seasons in the history of Manchester United.
2. Petr Cech - Head injury
We all remember the famous Chelsea vs. Reading match way back in 2006, wherein the very first minute, Cech collided with Reading's Stephen Hunt, a collision that was so brutal it wasn't shown on TV.
However, this wasn't the end, as Cech was diagnosed with a 3rd-degree skull fracture, and the doctors were saying that it could prematurely end his career. Also, the doctors described the injury as being a considerable risk to his life. Many thought that it was the end of the Chelsea goalkeeper.
However, with a hugely successful surgery, Cech returned after four months and started playing for Chelsea, putting on the famous rugby-style head guard, making him one of the most recognizable players in the world.
His skull fracture was healed, but there have been some damages to the surface, as this is the reason why Cech still wears the helmet and also that another blow can cause more problems such as permanent concussions and brain damage.
1. David Beckham - Asthma
One of the greatest ever Manchester United and England forwards, Beckham is famously known to have led his team into the 2002 World Cup Semifinals from a dramatic last-minute free-kick, since then, he has had an extremely splendid career playing for clubs like Real Madrid and AC Milan. A set-piece specialist an intelligent midfielder, he is considered as one of the most influential footballers of the 21st century.
Beckham was on top when it came to fitness, but a lesser-known fact about the former England captain is that he is asthmatic. Back in 2009, Beckham was spotted using an inhaler against Real Salt Lake in the MLS Cup final during his stint with LA Galaxy. The midfielder's spokesperson Simon Oliveira mentioned that he had this condition since childhood.
"David has suffered with this since he was a young boy, but it has obviously had no effect on his performance"
Indeed, Beckham never showed any signs of asthma throughout his career, as his diet plays a vital role in his asthma management.