Injuries are the worst part about being a footballer; a serious injury can keep a football player out of the game for a long time, taking a huge toll on them mentally and physically. The rehabilitation process to get injured footballers back to full fitness can be a long and tedious process. Injuries to key players are nightmares for fo clubs, particularly if there aren't like for like replacements readily available on the bench. In this respect, Arsenal have seen a few players who could not fulfil their potential at the club because of injuries.
Football players' injuries can happen due to a multitude of reasons. Some footballers, despite showing great potential at a young age, struggle with injuries once they get older because their bodies cannot keep up with the pace of the game. Some on the other hand are just unlucky in terms of suffering a nasty tackle, While some players return stronger from injuries and get better, not everyone is as fortuitous in this respect.
During his 22 years at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger managed some of the best footballers in the world and has witnessed several top players drop down from the top of their game due to injuries.
On that note, here is a look at five former Arsenal players whose careers were blighted due to injuries:
Five former Arsenal players whose careers where blighted by injuries:
1. Abou Diaby
Every Arsenal fan remembers Abou Diaby. While he did have some memorable performances in an Arsenal shirt, the Frenchman is more widely remembered for all the injuries he suffered during his nine years at the North London Premier League club.
Overall, Diaby was out injured 18 times during his time at Arsenal, with his longest spell out injured being 391 days. The most frustrating part about Diaby's injuries was that when he was fit, he was an exceptional player to watch. Arsenal signed Diaby for just £ 2 million from French club Auxerre, and Wenger compared him with Patrick Vieira. The former Arsenal manager said about Diaby:
"His ability to win the ball back is just like Vieira's. He is capable of very quick transitions from defence to attack and has fantastic strength box to box, nobody can go with him. Diaby is a bit more offensive than Vieira but when he plays a more defensive role he is very similar (with Viera)."
Things could have been completely different for Arsenal had Diaby not suffered all those injuries; their midfield could have continued to flourish but as mentioned earlier some footballers are just unlucky with injuries.
The tall Frenchman ended up making 180 appearances for Arsenal, scoring 19 goals and assisting 16, tallies that could have significantly more had he not been out injuried as many times as he did .
2. Eduardo da Silva
Despite enjoying a very successful career, Eduardo da Silva will always be remembered by Arsenal fans and fans worldwide for the horrible leg break he suffered on 23 February 2008 against Birmingham City at the hands of Martin Taylor. This horrific injury to the Brazilian-born Croatian is widely regarded as the moment Arsenal lost focus and slipped off the title race that season.
Before joining Arsenal, Eduardo made his name in the Croatian league for Dinamo Zagreb where he scored 41 goals in just 49 appearances. It was his performance against Arsenal in a Champions League match that caught Wenger's attention. Eduardo who scored in Zagreb's 2-1 loss to Arsenal caught the attention of then Arsenal manager Wenger who said about Eduardo:
"I knew immediately that he was special. His history said a lot, a young Brazilian who adapted to a completely different country, so I believed he would quickly adapt to Arsenal.”
Arsenal signed Eduardo to replace Thierry Henry, and he made an immediate impression. He looked to be the man who would take over Arsenal's attack but that injury at the turn of the year changed things forever, and Eduardo was never the same after that.
He ended his Arsenal career with 21 goals and 17 assists from 68 appearances and although he went to play for the likes of Shakhtar Donetsk and Flamengo, he never really reached his full potential.
3. Tomas Rosicky
Tomas Rosicky is widely regarded as the best Arsenal player to ever wear the No. 7 jersey. Had it not been for his recurring injuries, the Czech would have gone on to achieve a lot more at for the North London club.
Called the Little Mozart during his time at Arsenal, Rosicky was very impressive for the Czech Republic during the 2006 World Cup qualifiers, and Arsene Wenger moved early to secure his signature before the start of the quadrennial tournament. Rosicky's initial few years at Arsenal saw him constantly getting better and better but an injury on 26th January 2008 would be his last appearance for the club until September 2009.
Rosicky’s Arsenal career was marred by injuries. The Czech missed a total of 990 days through rehabilitation, with his torn tendons in his knee in 2008 raising the prospect that he may not be able to play competitive football again. Despite showing his true potential in an Arsenal shirt, Rosicky kept on getting injured after his 2008 injury. Just when he was getting back to form, he would end up getting injured again, thus halting his progress.
Despite his bad luck with injuries, Rosicky would go on to make over 200 appearances for Arsenal. Who can forget Wenger's famous quote about Rosicky when the Czech decided to leave Arsenal after ten years at the club:
"If you love football, you love Tomas Rosicky.”
"He had all the football qualities to play the game we love to play here, and I would say Tomas Rosicky was the perfect player for Arsenal. It will always be a frustration he didn't play more games because first of all Tomas was an exceptional talent. I personally, like we all do here, love the player. The standing ovation he gets every time he walks out there tells you a lot. We love the man as well, and his attitude, and his exceptional class and qualities. It's sad that he's leaving, but I must say, for me it was a privilege to manage him."
4. Jack Wilshere
Every Arsenal fan out there knows which match made Jack Wilshere the most famous young Englishman and the hottest prospect in world football at that time. It was the on 16th of February 2011 where Wilshere put in the performance of a lifetime as Arsenal defeated Barcelona 2-1, with the Englishman outshining the likes of Andreas Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez.
After that performance, Stewart Robson described Wilshere as "the best English talent since Paul Gascoigne.”
In his first full season with Arsenal, Wilshere played 49 matches but a pre-season friendly match at the start of the next season would be the start of his injury problems.
Wilshere's game-time would significantly drop with each passing season after his breakthrough season and his injuries would constantly pile up. That combined with some personal issues would see him out of the Arsenal team regularly. Had injuries not impacted him to the extent they did, Wilshere might have become one of the best footballers to have ever played for Arsenal.
In an interview way back in 2015, Xavi Hernandez said that Wilshere had the potential to become the best midfielder in Europe. The former Barcelona man said about Wilshere:
"If he had a career that had been injury-free, we would already be talking about him as one of the top central midfield players in Europe.I have played against him, I have watched him carefully, and if he can overcome injuries, then he can still go on and be one of the best midfield players in the world."
"With all respect, he doesn’t play the English way. He has an excellent passing range, an ability not to lose the ball; it is clear that he has had his education at Arsenal. Now I see Wilshere as the future of English football, that is why it is so important they keep him fit.”
5. Santi Cazorla
Santi Cazorla is probably the best midfielder Arsenal has had in a long time and while his first three years at the club saw him play an instrumental role, he barely featured for Arsenal in his final three years due to a serious Achilles injury. The Spaniard's game-time seriously reduced in the 15/16 and 16/17 seasons, and he went the entire 17/18 season without playing a single match for Arsenal.
Cazorla ultimately ended up missing 668 days of his career during an agonising period of two years in which he had 11 operations to try and fix his Achilles injury. His injury came about in 2016 and things looked so bad for him that doctors told him he should be lucky if he could ever walk again.
Cazorla was a truly special player for Arsenal, and his unfortunate injury ruined what could have been an amazing career at the Emirates Stadium. His ability to carry the ball forward, quick feet and fabulous passing were amazing to watch; it's sad he never got a proper farewell at Arsenal.
However, the Spaniard is doing extremely well at Villarreal right now. To recover from a serious injury like his shows his tough mentality and the kind of player he is. Cazorla also mentioned that he would love to return to Arsenal and be reunited with Mikel Arteta at some point. The midfielder said:
"I don’t know what my legacy is at Arsenal. You have to ask the fans, but I want to thank everyone.I don’t know what I will do next, maybe a coach, maybe a sports director, but I would like to come back."Published 24 Jun 2020, 02:30 IST