Long term injury setbacks can often be quite devastating in any sport. Football is no different, and there’ve been a whole host of players who’ve been out for long spells only to never return to being the explosive players they once were.
Luis Ronaldo, the phenomenon, immediately springs to mind. After his marvelous debut season for Inter in the 1997-98 season, having already smashed records at Barcelona the year before, Ronaldo suffered the first of a series of devastating knee injuries that would thoroughly hamper his career.
To think that Ronaldo still managed to win another two World player of the year awards, the FIFA World Cup and a whole host of glittering personal accolades is a testament to the marvelous player he was even after his injury.
But make no mistake, the explosive, otherworldly, Ronaldo we had seen before his spate of knee injuries had never returned. That he was still often considered the best player in the world can only make us wonder how much more stunning his achievements would have been had he not been tackled by injuries in the first place.
The mental aspect isn’t any easier. For athletes who have dedicated their entire lives to this sport, spending long periods of time away from what they love and live for is remarkably difficult.
In this piece, we’ll take a look at the players who have recently been hampered by a sustained period away from the game but who’ll be looking to come back with a vengeance next season:
1) Kevin Strootman
Strootman was one of the most dynamic and promising midfielders around when he joined Roma from PSV in 2013. His initial performances showed that he was living up to the hype and it didn’t take long for clubs to begin circling around the Dutch midfielder. Manchester United were especially keen on swooping in for him, well aware that a midfielder of his class, strength and quality could elevate their midfield to another level.
However, towards the end of the season, he sustained his first knee injury and would be forced to miss the 2014 FIFA world cup, a setback that made Van Gaal completely change his playing system for the Netherlands. Strootman would go on to make only 12 appearances in the next 2 seasons, facing setback after setback on his way to return to full fitness.
Strootman is fit now though, and made a few impressive appearances towards the end of the season and seems more determined and self-assured than ever. He’s already back in the playing 11 of the national team and though he’ll unfortunately, miss out on the Euros (The Netherlands didn’t qualify), it means he’ll have the off season to train hard and be back with a bang next season.