The strangest injuries in Premier League history - featuring Aston Villa & Leeds stars
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A brutal international break has seen a slew of injuries affecting big clubs in England, Spain, and elsewhere, and with injury crises already underway at Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur there have been few moments in Premier League history in which there have been more members of the walking wounded sitting sullenly in the stands as their team-mates go about their business on the pitch.
What better time, then, to look over some of the most farcical injuries in the history of the Premier League – while plenty of clubs may have a queue outside the physio’s room right now, at least none of the various knock, strains and tears were caused by small children, remote controls, ironing boards or puddles of dog urine. All of those, and more, feature below…
The veteran goalkeeper was already battling to keep his place at Chelsea in 1993, but the means by which his career at Stamford Bridge came to a close was distinctly unusual. The former Wimbledon man managed to drop a jar of salad cream on his foot, the shattering glass severing the tendons in his toes. He never played for Chelsea again, with manager Glenn Hoddle shipping him off to Southampton.
Apparently it was a gigantic 2kg jar which did the damage, which tells us a fair amount about Beasant’s eating habits as well. He would at least go on to make more than 200 further league appearances in a career which only ended at the remarkable age of 55 at Stevenage – he didn’t play for them, but did make the substitute’s bench against Carlisle United. Whether his taste in condiments had improved by that point is unknown.
Barnsley’s brief stint in the Premier League in the late nineties didn’t feature many wins, but did give us one of the daftest injuries in top flight history. Midfielder Darren Barnard was wandering about his home when he failed to notice a puddle of urine left by his puppy – he slipped, fell, and tore his knee ligaments. He was out for five months.
Barnard isn’t the only Premier League player to have fallen foul of a problematic pooch. Stoke City’s Liam Lawrence fell down the stairs after tripping over his pet dog in 2008, incurring an ankle injury in the process and putting him out of action for two months.
As any movie director knows, you should never work with animals or children. Having covered the dangers posed by pets, we should also note that small kids are equally lethal if you’re a professional sportsperson. Leeds United and England midfielder David Batty found that out the hard way when he damaged his Achilles tendon after his young daughter ran him over on her tricycle. He was already recuperating from injury, and the world’s smallest road traffic accident added a few weeks onto his recovery time.
Ex-Sunderland striker Kevin Kyle is another player to have brutalised by his own offspring – he turned up at training one day “walking like John Wayne” after his eight-month old toddler knocked a bowl of boiling water onto his gonads.
The home is, clearly, a deeply dangerous place for footballers, and quite a few players have put themselves out of action simply by lounging around in their own houses. Perhaps the most famous such case involved Rio Ferdinand – during his spell at Leeds United, the defender missed a string of games after wrenching a tendon in his knee, apparently because he had his feet up on a coffee table for too long during a mammoth session playing Pro Evolution Soccer on the Playstation.
England team-mate David James was also reported to have injured his back reaching for the remote control while on his own sofa, although James later denied the story – but one confirmed victim of excess relaxing was Reading forward Leroy Lita, who put his back out while stretching in bed. Manager Steve Coppell said at the time that it was “not an injury that should be ridiculed or made light of.” We politely disagree, Steve.
One of the shortest players in Premier League history at a 5’4”, diminutive defender Wright – who played 260 league games for Aston Villa – was probably fed up with jokes about his height before the time his short stature caused him an especially embarrassing injury back in 1996.
Enjoying the wealth that comes with being a professional footballer, Wright purchased himself a fancy new Ferrari 248, only to strain his knee ligaments while struggling to reach for the accelerator pedal. Sensibly, he traded the sports car in for a Rover 416, which was less showy and presumably had more easily-adjusted seats.
Alan isn’t the only Wright to offer up some very strange excuses to the medical staff – former Everton goalie Richard made a fool of himself back in 2006 when he hurt himself in the warm-up ahead of a match against Chelsea. The groundskeepers had erected a large sign in front of the goalmouths telling them to stay clear and use temporary goals to the side for practice, a warning Wright decided to ignore.
He contrived to trip over the sign, injuring his ankle in the process, a victory for health and safety advocates everywhere. It wasn’t even Wright’s first offence – he’d previously hurt himself falling when trying to put some suitcases in his loft. Apparently he’s the reason we need warnings like ‘may contain nuts’ on packets of peanuts.
So far, the injuries we’ve discussed have been a result of misfortune rather than immense stupidity. Enter former Aston Villa striker Vassell, who found himself frustrated by a blood blister which had developed beneath one of his toe-nails. Any sensible man would seek the advice of one of the multiple medical professionals on Villa’s staff – but Vassell was not a sensible man.
His cure for the blister was to take a drill to his own toe. Yes, an actual electric drill. The results of his attempted home remedy could have been far worse, but rather than spending the rest of his life one digit down he merely lost the nail and developed what was apparently in extremely painful infection – which was severe enough to keep him out of the next nine games.
The American goalkeeper was playing for Leicester City when he lost both front teeth in a sporting accident – at least, if you can describe smashing your own face in with a golf club as a sporting accident. It wasn’t even down to a wild swing on the tenth, either… Keller managed to knock two gnashers clean out of his mouth when he was lifting his clubs out of the car.
At least he was able to continue his Premier League career, even if he did whistle like a teapot whenever he shouted instructions at his defenders. Danish goalkeeper Michael Stensgaard was less fortunate – he aggravated a shoulder injury while attempting to set up an ironing board at home, an injury which spelled the end of his time at Liverpool. The unfortunate stopper only managed 36 professional career appearances, all for FC København, before he was forced to retire at the age of 26, although admittedly the shoulder wasn’t the only injury he suffered. Rumours that the spinal disc herniation which finally ended things was caused by a Corby trouser press are unfounded.