Danny Welbeck and the most injury-jinxed players in Premier League history


What a joy it was to see Danny Welbeck scoring such a brilliant goal for Brighton against Leeds on Saturday. After injury plagued his career for so many years, he finally looks like the electric player who burst through at Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson so long ago.

A Cruyff turn left the Leeds defence for dead before a left-footed blast across goal and inside the far post meant Illan Meslier had barely even started to dive before the ball hit the back of the net.

Jean-Philippe Gbamin should take note: all things are not lost. Just look at Welbeck.

Danny Welbeck scored a sensational goal for Brighton against Leeds on Saturday

Danny Welbeck scored a sensational goal for Brighton against Leeds on Saturday

The fit-again Welbeck celebrates his screamer with Brighton team-mate Dan Burn

The fit-again Welbeck celebrates his screamer with Brighton team-mate Dan Burn

After a recent 12-minute cameo against Crystal Palace, Gbamin spoke of his delight and relief at returning to action in an Everton shirt. He also spoke of how manager Carlo Ancelotti had played a key role in keeping a positive mindset during his 19 months out with achilles and quadriceps injuries.

But the midfielder is now set to miss the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury in training. 

Gbamin is not the only player to have had such rotten luck with suffering a succession of serious injuries though – and here are some of the most injury-jinxed of them all in recent times, including that man Welbeck.

Welbeck should act as inspiration for Everton's Jean-Philippe Gbamin (centre), who played for 12 minutes against Crystal Palace but is now out again with another serious injury

Welbeck should act as inspiration for Everton’s Jean-Philippe Gbamin (centre), who played for 12 minutes against Crystal Palace but is now out again with another serious injury

Jack Wilshere

There are few who have had as many injury setbacks in recent times as Jack Wilshere. In nearly a decade since his first injury – he sprained his ankle on Arsenal’s pre-season tour against New York Red Bulls in July 2011 – Wilshere has spent nearly 1,400 days out of action. That first injury kept him out for 56 days and he missed 10 games.

Sadly it would be a sign of things to come for the former Gunners wonderkid. A series of knee and ankle injuries have affected him throughout his career. 

The worst it got was when he missed nearly a full year after suffering a hairline fracture to the fibula bone in his calf.

Jack Wilshere suffered a series of knee and ankle injuries during his time playing for Arsenal

Jack Wilshere suffered a series of knee and ankle injuries during his time playing for Arsenal

A move to West Ham in the summer of 2018 was meant to spark a new beginning. Wilshere had his own training plan and was monitored closely to help prevent further injuries.

That cautious approach only got him so far and he would suffer three injuries in total during his time at the London Stadium. 

Of the 820 days he was at West Ham, 422 of them were spent injured. Wilshre’s contract was mutually cancelled last October before he joined Bournemouth on a short-term deal in January. The 29-year-old has made 14 appearances since then and is yet to miss a game because of injury.

Ryan Taylor

It was during the Europa League play-off round all the way back in August 2012 when Ryan Taylor suffered a knee injury in Newcastle’s game against Atromitos.

Taylor had scored a free-kick against the Greek side a week earlier but then went off seven days later when the sides met at St James’ Park.

Manager Alan Pardew said Taylor had picked up a ‘knock’, adding that he hoped the injury wasn’t as bad as they feared.

Ryan Taylor had a tough couple of years at Newcastle after damaging his cruciate ligaments

Ryan Taylor had a tough couple of years at Newcastle after damaging his cruciate ligaments

It soon emerged, though, that the defender had damaged his cruciate ligaments and would be out for eight months.

Eight months later, and following surgery and extensive rehab, Taylor returned to training and was preparing to play again for Newcastle.

But he suffered a cruel blow when he damaged the same ligaments in his knee, forcing him out for 18 months. In total he was on the sidelines for 26 months.

He made his comeback in a 2-0 League Cup win over Manchester City on October 24, 2014 and described being back fit and playing as ‘a dream come true’.

Aaron Ramsey

Juventus boss Andrea Pirlo perhaps summed up how the last decade for Aaron Ramsey has been following the Wales midfielder’s latest setback last month. 

Pirlo said: ‘He has physical problems and is unable to get continuity to his performances because he has to stop every two or three games.’

Ever since he suffered a broken leg following a challenge by Ryan Shawcross while playing for Arsenal against Stoke in February 2010, Ramsey has found it difficult to stay fit.

Aaron Ramsey suffered a broken leg in February 2010 following a tackle by Ryan Shawcross

Aaron Ramsey suffered a broken leg in February 2010 following a tackle by Ryan Shawcross

The leg break kept him out until late November and when he returned to action he was on loan at Nottingham Forest before moving to Cardiff until he was eventually recalled by Arsenal in March 2011.

No doubt he proved to be a supremely important player for Arsenal over the next eight years until he left for Juventus on a free transfer in 2019 but there will always be a sense that he was destined for greater things had it not been for the leg break and the injuries that followed.

Thigh problems have been a recurring theme among the ongoing niggles that have frustrated Ramsey so.

Daniel Sturridge

What a player Daniel Sturridge was during his early years at Liverpool. Alongside Luis Suarez, he nearly fired Brendan Rodgers side to the title in 2014, while Jurgen Klopp marvelled at his technical brilliance and incisive finishing after taking the reins at Anfield. ‘He is one of the best finishers I have ever seen in my life. He scores goals you think could and should not be possible,’ Klopp has said.

Yet after becoming England’s first-choice striker at the 2014 World Cup, his career fell off a cliff. Thigh, hamstring and hip injuries ruined his next season, but thereafter there was plenty more – ankle, calf and some unexplained absences too.

Having lit up Liverpool in his first two seasons, his next five would be a misery, and he eventually left in 2019 for the shock destination of Trabzonspor in Turkey. Things went badly there too, for altogether different reasons, and at the age of just 31 he is now without a club.

Daniel Sturridge sits injured on the Anfield turf in 2014, sadly an all-too-familiar sight

Daniel Sturridge sits injured on the Anfield turf in 2014, sadly an all-too-familiar sight

The scars, both physical and mental, remain. ‘I saw a quote from [Borussia Dortmund forward Marco] Reus the other day which said he’d pay any amount of money to just play injury-free and never be injured,’ he told the Between The Lines podcast last year.

‘And honestly, I’d do the same, I would. I would pay any amount of money. I’d spend loads of money outside of the physios to do extra stuff to ensure I can be as healthy as possible. Hundreds of thousands, to make sure my body was in the best shape possible.

‘And the toughest thing is the mental side because you know you’ve given your all. If you’re not strong mentally, injuries will continue to break you and send you down a dark path.’

Stuart Holden

For a player to be at the peak of their powers and then have it all taken away is possibly as cruel as it gets in football no matter which level they are at.

In 2013, Stuart Holden had become a first-team regular at Bolton following their relegation to the Championship.

Holden had also got himself into the USA squad for World Cup qualifying and the Gold Cup. But after making a strong impression following eight consecutive appearances, it emerged the midfielder had torn his ACL in his right leg during the 2013 Gold Cup final against Panama.

Bolton's Stuart Holden was in the form of his life when he tore his ACL in the summer of 2013

Bolton’s Stuart Holden was in the form of his life when he tore his ACL in the summer of 2013

It was the first injury he had since 2011 when he had suffered a fracture close to the knee joint, which kept him out for nearly a year after the extent of the cartilage damage he’d sustained wasn’t discovered for six months.

Holden was monitored closely in 2013 to avoid a repeat of what had happened two years prior, but he lasted only 23 minutes into his comeback game – a reserve match against Everton in March 2014.

He had reinjured the same knee and was ruled out for nine months. In 2016, he announced his retirement from the game aged 30.  

Abou Diaby

Now for the sorry tale of Abou Diaby. The 6ft 4in midfielder arrived at Arsenal with great hopes of following in Patrick Vieira’s footsteps. Big shoes to fill, yes, but that was how highly he was spoken of when he joined from Auxerre as a teenager in January 2006.

It was something of a coup for the Gunners given the interest of Chelsea, who were awash with cash following Roman Abramovich’s takeover in 2003. A move that promised so much, though, was ridden with injury and saw Diaby never fully realise his potential before he moved to Marseille in 2015, where he stayed for two years before retiring from football.

Diaby’s problems all started on May 1, 2006 at the Stadium of Light when a bad tackle by Sunderland’s Dan Smith shattered the France international’s ankle.

Abou Diaby's problems really started when he was on the end of a horror tackle at Sunderland

Abou Diaby’s problems really started when he was on the end of a horror tackle at Sunderland

Unsurprisingly, the injury had a major effect on him physically and mentally. It took three surgeries to recover just from that injury.

Diaby opened up about it a few years ago, adding how much Arsene Wenger’s support meant to him. He said: ‘Things started well but afterwards I had injuries and problems. But he always there for me. I will never be able to thank him enough for what he did for me.’

Diaby would go on to suffer an astonishing 36 more injuries at Arsenal with muscle strains and ankle and foot injuries hindering him throughout his time as a Gunner, and a cruciate ligament rupture was the worst of it, keeping him out for over a year. He could only play five games in two seasons at Marseille after finally leaving London too. Aged 32, he finally admitted defeat.

Danny Welbeck  

It is great to see Danny Welbeck back playing and scoring in the Premier League at Brighton this year, now aged 30. His pedigree as a top-level striker has always been known, but he’s struggled with injury for so many years that it would have been understandable for him to either retire or drop down a division.

Welbeck’s injuries have been less severe over the last year although he has missed eight games for Brighton this season. Last season, while playing for Watford, he was out for over 100 days with a persistent hamstring injury.

Yet that is nothing compared with his past horrors. 2015 and 2016 were particularly bad years for the England striker, then reaching his prime at the age of 25, when he was ruled out for nearly a year after knee surgery. Having returned and made an impact for his team, just three months later the unthinkable happened and his knee went again – another eight agonising months out.

But perhaps the worst of it came in November 2018.

Danny Welbeck missed 42 games after he landed badly on his ankle in November 2018

Danny Welbeck missed 42 games after he landed badly on his ankle in November 2018

Having finally been fit for about a year, Welbeck was playing for Arsenal against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League at the Emirates when he jumped up for a header but landed badly on his ankle, injuring it horribly in the process. 

After being given oxygen on the pitch, he was taken to hospital where it was confirmed that he had broken his ankle. He would miss another 42 games before playing again. 

When he left Arsenal in 2019 the fans applauded him from the pitch, knowing that cruel fate had robbed them of a much-loved player who could have achieved great things. That strike against Leeds was just more proof of that.

Darren Anderton 

Sicknote. That’s the nickname that unfortunately dogged Darren Anderton for much of his career before retiring at the age of 36.

It is believed that Anderton, who enjoyed an 18-year playing career, which included seven as an England international, first got the nickname at Portsmouth where he started his senior career.

It is said that out of jest a team-mate of Anderton’s, Pompey goalkeeper Andy Gosney, dubbed him ‘sicknote’ presumably because of the number of games he missed.

Injuries weren’t really a problem for Anderton at Tottenham, who he joined in 1992, until the 1995/96 season. He missed most of that season but was fit enough to play for England in the European Championships on home soil.

Darren Anderton's nickname of 'sicknote' followed the former Spurs player through his career

Darren Anderton’s nickname of ‘sicknote’ followed the former Spurs player through his career

The same thing happened again in the 1997/98 season. Anderton missed much of Tottenham’s season but did get himself fit for the World Cup in France. 

Two years later injury did result in him missing Euro 2000. An achilles injury ruled him out of the competition, although he did return to full fitness for the start of the 2000/01 season. His last attempt at trying to make it for England at the World Cup in 2002 failed and two years after he departed Spurs for Birmingham. He dropped down to League One in 2006 to play for Bournemouth.

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