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Pedro Mendes still worries brutal Ben Thatcher tackle has done him lasting damage

Pedro Mendes is stretched off after his collision with Ben Thatcher
-Credit: (Image: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)


Former Tottenham midfielder Pedro Mendes still fears he could suffer lasting damage after being on the wrong end of one of the worst fouls in Premier League history.

In August 2006, Mendes was playing for Portsmouth and received a challenge from Manchester City defender Ben Thatcher, which knocked him unconscious and led to the midfielder suffering a seizure.

The former Portugal international was sprinting to reach a partially cleared corner but was stopped by the onrushing Thatcher smashing his forearm into Mendes’ jaw. Almost 18 years later, he is still wary of the possible long-term effects.

“I woke up in hospital after the Ben Thatcher challenge, but luckily the worst thing I felt afterwards was just being unsettled, as well as some pains. It took me a couple of games to actually start playing properly again,” Mendes told OLBG.

“The main thing for me is worrying about my future, I fear that the injury could lead to more incidents or injuries in the brain. I know the game can be aggressive but what he did was illegal.

“The most important thing for me was to put it behind me or I'd never have been able to play the game again. I’d have been afraid to go into a challenge, afraid to tackle, I had to reset and keep moving forward.”

Remarkably, former Spurs defender Thatcher only received a yellow card from referee Dermot Gallagher, despite the incident prompting “a number of complaints” to Greater Manchester Police. Gallagher’s refusal to send off Thatcher sparked anger from then Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp.

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"Off the field, you could not meet a nicer boy," Redknapp said about Thatcher. "Unfortunately, on the pitch, he is capable of doing things like that.

"It was a horrendous challenge and totally out of order. Pedro is in hospital and won't be coming back with us tonight. He suffered some kind of fit or seizure. We had to give him oxygen and he wasn't in a great way when he left the stadium, but we will see how he is tomorrow."

Mendes’ Portsmouth teammate Matty Taylor was equally outraged: "How can that not be a sending-off? What do you have to do, kill someone?"

In the aftermath, Thatcher was fined six weeks’ wages and suspended for six games by Man City before being given an eight-game ban by the FA. The Wales international wrote an apology to Mendes but then Man City boss Stuart Pearce labelled the challenge “indefensible”.

“Ben is distraught but hopefully he will learn from it,” Pearce admitted. “He is an aggressive player but every now and then the red mist appears and he steps over the mark. I ask my team to play hard but fair but when they go over the mark it's down to me to make sure I guide them in the right way.”