Best Football Injury Comebacks

  • Some injuries can force players out for months
  • Ronaldo led Brazil to a victory in 2002 after recovering from his knee injury
  • Abidal came back after a liver transplant, Santi Cazorla after almost losing his foot
best football injury comebacks

Injuries can happen with every footballer, from minor muscle strains to more serious tears and sprains. But the following players suffered even worse, long-term injuries which forced them to be out for several months. Still, they could all return back successfully and play on the same or even better level than before. This is the list of the best football injury comebacks. 

Being injured can be devastating for any athlete, but for football players a serious injury can even mean the end of their careers. Or being replaced with other players and getting less opportunity in the first team. But thanks to the latest methods an injury doesn’t have to mean the end of top level football any more. Like in the case of Manchester City strikers Kun Aguero and Gabriel Jesus, who often suffer from injuries but can always return to the pitch in top form. Or as it happened with the members of the following list. Who had to leave out several months but produced great comebacks after that.

List of the best football injury comebacks

7. Aaron Ramsey

20-year-old Aaron Ramsey just started to play for the first team at Arsenal when a Stoke defender broke his right leg with his bad tackle in 2010. His recovery was a long process, it took him 9 months to fully recover. But it was worth it as after returning the Welsh midfielder became a key member of the team. He scored 64 goals in his 369 appearances including the winners in the 2014 and 2017 FA Cup finals. From time to time he suffered smaller injuries, but he could always return to his level. Last year after his latest hamstring injury Ramsay left Arsenal to join Juventus. It seemed to be a great choice as he became Serie A champions in his first season. Online sportsbooks in Italy also favor the team to win this season with the odds of 2.75.

6. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Most people including himself think about Zlatan Ibrahimovic as an indestructible player. But even he suffered a major injury a few years ago, playing for Manchester United at the time. He sustained serious ligament damage in his right knee, with a 9-12 months recovery anticipated. But Ibrahimovic could recover only in 7 months after working 5-6 hours every day to make it happen. What’s more, he could continue at the same level as before. He scored 53 goals in his 58 appearances for Los Angeles Galaxy before joining AC Milan. Ibra is still playing superbly at the age of 39 and leading the Serie A’s top goalscorers’ list with his 8 goals. Online gambling sites in Italy offer the odds of 7.00 for Milan to win the Serie A title this season.

best football injury comebacks
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Andy Witchger, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

5. Ruud van Nistelroy

Another former Manchester United player, Ruud van Nistelroy has also suffered a main injury just before completing his transfer to the club. He was out for several months with his knee injury but United still bought him a year later. And it was a wise choice from the club as Nistelroy became one of their best players. He scored 36 goals in his first season followed by several more in the next four years. His total was 150 goals in 219 appearances, which is still one of the greatest performances at the club. The Dutch striker continued at Real Madrid in similar form, and scored 33 goals in his first season.

4. Ronaldo

The fantastic Brazilian forward, Ronaldo has also suffered with knee injuries during his career. First at PSV Eindhoven where he had to miss most of the 1995-96 season. Then at Inter Milan where his major problems started in 1999, after he ruptured a tendon in his knee. He returned back after 6 months, but it was way too early. As he had to come off after only 6 minutes of his first game and miss out the whole 2000-01 season. After two operations Ronaldo performed one of the best football injury comebacks and led the  Brazil team to victory in the 2002 World Cup. After that he also spent three more successful seasons at Real Madrid, scoring 104 goals for the team.

3. Petr Cech

The Czech goalkeeper was playing for defending Premier League champions Chelsea when he collided with Reading player Stephen Hunt in a PL game in 2006. What seemed first as a simple collision, became a horrifying incident where Cech’s life was on the edge. He suffered a skull fracture and had to undergo an emergency surgery to save his life. But the brilliant goalkeeper recovered quickly and was on the pitch within four months. Cech was playing in a special headguard after but he could still play on a very high level for several years. He won the Champions League with the club in 2012 and two Premier League titles after his injury.

best football injury comebacks
Petr Čech – John Dobbo, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

2. Santi Cazorla

Spanish midfielder Santi Cazorla could have been one of the best players in his time without his injuries. He had been an Arsenal player for four years, when he suffered the biggest injury of his career. Due to his ankle injury he couldn’t play for a staggering 21 months between 2016 and 2018. During this period he had 9 surgeries. In addition his ankle almost got amputated following an infection. So when his contract expired in 2018, when he was still in rehabilitation, Cazorla left the club and rejoined Villareal. There he slowly returned to playing and made his comeback in the summer. After such a dramatic injury, Cazorla could still return to football and play at a high level for two more seasons.

1. Eric Abidal

French left back Eric Abidal had a perfect career, moving up from AS Monaco and Lille to Olympique Lyon where he won three Ligue 1 titles. Then in 2007 he joined Barcelona and became a key player in the team’s defense. He won La Liga four times with the team beside two Champions League and Spanish Cup victories. But in 2011 Abidal was diagnosed with a tumor on his liver so he had to undergo surgery. Amazingly he returned to the pitch two months later and played the whole 90 minutes in the Champions League final against Manchester United. But a year later his health got worse and had to have a liver transplant. This time his recovery took much longer but Abidal did manage to come back after 11 months. Producing one of the best football injury comebacks in history.

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