Injuries are one of the cruellest aspects of sport. Often, they are brought on by no fault of the individual, while some, such as muscular problems, can be impossible to shake off and can return at any moment.
Countless players have had their careers ended prematurely due to such issues, but often those who are able to go on do not return the same player.
Here are five current players who had their pathways to becoming superstars impeded by such problems at a young age, which may have been the difference between the Ballon d’Or and where they are now.
When Jese debuted competitively for Real Madrid in 2012, aged only 19, there was a real buzz around the Bernabeu that he could grow into a superstar. He was not quite in the same mould as Raul, favouring a more withdrawn position on the wing to the legendary centre-forward, but there was real hope he could emulate his longevity.
It was after Jose Mourinho’s departure in 2013 when Jese started to make a real impression in the starting XI, scoring eight goals in 31 matches in the 2013-14 season under Carlo Ancelotti. Disaster struck in a Champions League match against Schalke, as he suffered a serious knee ligament injury that he has yet to fully recover from.
Although he has argued it made him a more “mature” player, he never won his place back in the Madrid side and failed to impose himself at Paris Saint-Germain following a €25 million move to the Parc des Princes. A loan switch in January to Las Palmas saw his fortunes take a slight rise, but there is little hope that he will become the player it was once hoped.