Five players whose careers were ruined by injuries as Ilkay Gundogan's Man City nightmare continues

Football Whispers
Ilkay Gundogan with Pep Guardiola
Ilkay Gundogan with Pep Guardiola


By Sam McGuire, Football Whispers

Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan must be wondering what he has done to deserve this luck.

The German international made his first start for the club in nine months against West Bromwich Albion in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup tie after returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

He didn’t complete 90 minutes and limped off close to the hour mark.

The former Borussia Dortmund man was instrumental in the first half with City controlling the middle third. But he was caught by a challenge from behind from West Brom’s Claudio Yacob in the 55th minute and immediately signalled to the bench that he was hurt.

City manager Pep Guardiola eased fears that the playmaker may be set for another spell on the sidelines during his post-match interview.

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But even if Gundogan isn’t ruled out for a sustained period, this is a blow to his recovery. Once again he’ll have to get back to match fitness before attempting to kickstart his City career, having only managed 18 appearances since joining in the summer of 2016.

With that in mind, we asked our friends at Football Whispers to compile a list of players who struggled to replicate their best form after serious injuries.

Michael Owen

The original Premier League boy wonder. Owen burst onto the scene aged just 17 and scored on his Liverpool debut against Wimbledon. The striker replaced the injured Robbie Fowler for the 1997/98 season and averaged a goal every other game in the Premier League – finishing with 18 goals in 36 appearances.

Hamstring injuries plagued him throughout his time on Merseyside but he still managed to score 20 or more goals in five of his seven seasons with the club. He won the Ballon d’Or in 2001 after his performances for Liverpool and England.

<p>Former England skipper Owen made his name at Liverpool (118) before also scoring for Newcastle (26), Manchester United (5) and Stoke (1).</p>

Former England skipper Owen made his name at Liverpool (118) before also scoring for Newcastle (26), Manchester United (5) and Stoke (1).

Owen impressed for Real Madrid during a solitary season in La Liga but it was upon his return to England with Newcastle United his decline began. He was no longer a destructive force and a number of injuries – including hamstring and thigh strains to a broken metatarsal – prevented him from really getting going on Tyneside.

Fernando Torres

Torres, for a period of time, was a force of nature for Liverpool. He struck up an understanding with Steven Gerrard which took his game to another level completely.

After scoring his 24th league goal in the final game of the 2007/08 season, a 2–0 win against Tottenham Hotspur, he set a new record for the most prolific foreign goal scorer in a debut season in England, eclipsing Ruud van Nistelrooy’s 23 goals. He scored 33 goals in 46 appearances in all competitions.

Fernando Torres
Fernando Torres

Hamstring strains and ankle niggles meant he failed to make 40 appearances or more in a single season again until 2010/11. Chelsea parted with £50million to bring him to Stamford Bridge and despite playing 30 more games for the club he scored 26 goals fewer than he did during his time on Merseyside.

Abou Diaby

In ten seasons with Arsenal, Diaby made more than 30 appearances in all competitions in just two.

Having reportedly turned down Chelsea to sign for the Gunners in 2005, Diaby looked at home in the Premier League with his aggressive dribbling style, physical presence and athleticism.

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During the 2007/08 season he scored a thunderous drive against Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-finals which showcased exactly the sort of player the Frenchman could be. But suffered 21 injuries throughout his time at the Emirates halted his progress and he left for Marseille in 2015.

Harry Kewell

In the summer of 2003 Kewell was the most in demand player in world football. The Australian winger had offers from AC Milan, Chelsea, Barcelona, Arsenal and Manchester United before opting to join Liverpool.

He impressed in his debut season at Anfield but it was then that injuries began to have an impact. Kewell was subbed off with a torn abductor muscle in Istanbul as Liverpool won Champions League.

Harry Kewell.
Harry Kewell.

He was then replaced in the 2006 FA Cup final with abdominal pains and a torn groin muscle. The former Leeds wideman made just 39 Premier League appearances in his final three seasons at Anfield before moving to Galatasaray in 2008.  

Marco Van Basten

When Johan Cruyff left Ajax to join rivals Feyenoord in 1983, many thought the Amsterdam club were insane to allow it to happen. However, Ajax only rubberstamped the move because they believed they already had Cruyff’s heir in Van Basten.

The Dutchman repaid the club’s faith in him by scoring 152 goals in 172 appearances and winning two Eredivisie titles and a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. Van Basten later moved to AC Milan and helped win back-to-back European Cups, as well as the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year.

He was riddled with a persistent ankle injury during his time with Milan, though, which resulted in him missing a number of matches for the club. He finally conceded defeat in his battle to recover in August 1995, when he announced his retirement as a player after two whole years on sidelines. He was just 30.

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