Top 20 Worst Soccer Injuries Of All Time 2024

As a true soccer fan, you’ve undoubtedly witnessed some jaw-dropping moments on the field, both in skill and, unfortunately, injuries.

Soccer is a sport that unites us all in our love for the game, but it also has its dark side where players suffer severe, sometimes even career-ending injuries.

In this article, we’ll look at the top 20 worst soccer injuries of all time, reminding ourselves of the sacrifices these athletes make for the sport we all adore.

You might find some of these incidents challenging to read about, but they are a stark reminder of the risks involved in playing soccer at the highest level.

From gruesome leg breaks to life-threatening head injuries, these players have endured the unimaginable, all in the name of the beautiful game.

As you read through this list of the most devastating injuries ever witnessed on the soccer field, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the players who have put their bodies on the line for our entertainment and the camaraderie that arises from shared experiences as fans.

Related: How Many Hours Do Soccer Refs Work? – Average Number

1. Eduardo da Silva’s Broken Leg

You’ll wince as you recall Eduardo da Silva’s horrific broken leg incident, which left fans and players alike in shock and dismay.

It was February 23, 2008, when the Croatian-Brazilian forward was playing for Arsenal in a Premier League match against Birmingham City.

In the third minute of the game, Eduardo was tackled by Birmingham’s Martin Taylor. A tackle that would go down in history as one of the most gruesome injuries in soccer.

The impact of the tackle was so severe that it resulted in an open fracture of Eduardo’s left fibula and a dislocation of his left ankle.

As a soccer enthusiast, you can’t help but feel deep empathy for Eduardo, who faced a long and arduous road to recovery.

The incident sparked debates on player safety and the use of excessive force in the sport, highlighting the importance of fair play and respect for fellow athletes.

Despite the severity of his injury, Eduardo’s determination and resilience saw him return to professional soccer after a year of rehabilitation.

His comeback is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of perseverance, something every soccer fan can appreciate and aspire to.

2. Henrik Larsson’s Broken Leg

You won’t believe the gut-wrenching sight of Henrik Larsson’s unfortunate leg mishap during his prime, a moment etched in the annals of football history.

The Swedish striker, playing for Celtic then, suffered a horrific broken leg during a UEFA Cup match against Lyon 1999.

The injury occurred when Larsson awkwardly collided with Lyon defender Serge Blanc, and his leg got caught underneath him at a distressing angle.

The impact resulted in a compound fracture that left his leg dangling, a sight that shocked teammates, opponents, and spectators.

Henrik Larsson’s journey to recovery was nothing short of remarkable. Not only did he manage to return to professional football, but he also continued to perform at an elite level.

His resilience and determination to overcome such a devastating injury showcased. The true spirit of a footballer and inspired countless others who faced similar setbacks.

The critical moments of Larsson’s injury and recovery can be summarized as follows:

  • The collision with Serge Blanc during the UEFA Cup match in 1999
  • The compound fracture of his leg, leaving it dangling at an unnatural angle
  • His incredible comeback to professional football, defying all odds and expectations

As a football fan, witnessing such a grievous injury can be heart-wrenching. Still Larsson’s recovery story serves as a reminder that even the most severe injuries can be overcome with resilience and determination.

Embrace the camaraderie in the football community as you stand in awe of the strength and perseverance

Displayed by Larsson and other players who have faced similar challenges.

3. Djibril Cisse’s Leg Break

It’s hard not to wince when recalling Djibril Cisse’s infamous leg break. Which genuinely tested the French forward’s resilience and passion for the beautiful game.

This horrific injury occurred during a friendly match between France and China in June 2006. Just days before the start of the FIFA World Cup.

Cisse, playing for Liverpool then went in for a tackle and got his leg caught under his body as he fell to the ground.

The impact resulted in his tibia and fibula snapping. Causing a gruesome scene on the pitch that many fans will never forget.

Despite the severity of his injury, Cisse showed incredible determination and made an astonishing recovery to resume his career.

As a fellow soccer enthusiast, you can’t help but admire Cisse’s strength and perseverance.

The road to recovery was not easy, as he underwent surgeries and intensive rehabilitation to regain his fitness and return to the sport he loved.

Miraculously, Cisse was back on the field in just seven months, making his comeback for Liverpool in February 2007.

This remarkable feat is a testament to the power of determination and the unbreakable bond that we, as fans, share with the game of soccer.

In the face of adversity, Cisse’s story serves as a reminder that no obstacle is too significant to overcome, and this spirit unites us all in our love for the beautiful game.

4. Patrick Battiston’s Coma Incident

Did you know that during the 1982 World Cup, French player Patrick Battiston slipped into a coma after a brutal collision on the field?

It happened during the semi-final match between France and West Germany when Battiston met with German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher.

As Battiston raced to meet a through-ball. Schumacher charged out of his goal area and collided with the Frenchman in a horrific and seemingly reckless manner.

The impact left Battiston unconscious, with two missing teeth, three cracked ribs, and damaged vertebrae. To the shock of many, the referee didn’t even award a free kick for the incident.

As a soccer fan, you’re likely familiar with the unwritten code of sportsmanship that exists among players on the field. This incident stands out as a stark reminder of the potential dangers of the game.

The severity of Battiston’s injuries and the controversial nature of Schumacher’s actions. Sparked outrage and debate in the soccer community, ultimately leading to a greater emphasis on player safety.

While Battiston eventually made a full recovery, the incident remains a cautionary tale for aspiring soccer players and a sobering moment in the beautiful game’s history.

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5. David Busst’s Career-Ending Leg Injury

Undoubtedly, one of the most gruesome and unforgettable incidents in football history is David Buss’s career-ending leg injury.

It happened on April 8, 1996, during a match between Manchester United and Coventry City at Old Trafford.

Bust, a Coventry City defender, went up for a corner kick, but his right leg collided with United’s Denis Irwin and Brian McClair as he landed.

The impact was so severe that it caused compound fractures to both the tibia and fibula of Busst’s right leg.

The injury was so horrifying that several players, including United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, were visibly shaken and needed counseling afterward. The aftermath of the injury was truly devastating for Busst.

Despite undergoing 26 surgeries and battling multiple infections, including a life-threatening MRSA, he was forced to retire from professional football at 29.

However, his resilience and determination saw him return to the sport in various roles, including coaching and community work.

Today, he inspires many, reminding us of the importance of pushing through adversity and staying strong in the face of life’s challenges.

So, as a football fan, you can’t help but feel a sense of belonging to this community that not only embraces the glories and successes. But also supports and uplifts those who have faced unimaginable hardships.

6. Alf-Inge Håland’s Knee Injury

You won’t believe the story of Alf-Inge Håland’s devastating knee injury, which serves as another reminder of the brutal nature of football and the incredible resilience of its players.

Håland, a Norwegian midfielder who played for Nottingham Forest, Leeds United, and Manchester City, suffered a career-altering injury during a match between Manchester City and Manchester United in 2001.

The infamous tackle by United’s captain, Roy Keane, left Håland with a torn anterior cruciate (ACL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), and meniscus in his left knee.

This horrific incident resonates with fans and players alike as a stark reminder of the toll the beautiful game can take on even the most demanding athletes.

Despite the severity of his injury, Håland demonstrated incredible determination and resilience during his long and grueling recovery process.

He underwent multiple surgeries and extensive rehabilitation, but the damage to his knee was too severe for him to return to professional football.

After nearly two years of trying to come back, Håland officially retired in 2003. His story is a testament to footballers’ unwavering spirit and dedication, who push their bodies to the limit in pursuit of their passion.

The football community continues to rally around Håland, and his journey inspires players and fans alike, reminding us of the indomitable strength of the human spirit.

7. Luc Nilis’ Leg Break

Luc Nilis’ leg break is yet another heart-wrenching tale in the world of football, showcasing the sport’s brutal side and the extraordinary resilience of its players.

This harrowing incident occurred on September 9, 2000. When the Belgian striker, then playing for English club Aston Villa, collided with Ipswich Town goalkeeper Richard Wright.

The impact was so severe that Nilis’ right leg was shattered, with the tibia and fibula fractured.

Despite the immediate medical attention he received on the field. The severity of the injury meant he faced a lengthy and grueling recovery process.

As a football fan, you can’t help but feel a sense of solidarity with Luc Nilis. His story represents the inherent risks players face every time they step onto the pitch.

This devastating injury, unfortunately, led to the premature end of his promising career. Still, it also serves as a reminder of athletes’ strength and determination when faced with adversity.

Nilis’ resilience and unwavering spirit throughout his recovery resonates with us all.

And his story will forever be etched in the annals of football history as both a cautionary tale and an inspiring testament to the power of human endurance.

8. Neil Lennon’s Jaw Injury


Another harrowing tale in football’s history involves Neil Lennon’s jaw injury. It reminds us of the sport’s unforgiving nature and the incredible perseverance athletes display in the face of setbacks.

Lennon, a former Northern Irish footballer, and current manager, suffered a severe jaw injury while playing for Leicester City in a match against Sheffield Wednesday in 1999.

The incident occurred when Lennon collided with an opposing player, causing his jaw to be broken in two places.

Despite the excruciating pain, Lennon demonstrated his unwavering commitment to the sport and his team.

He got back on his feet and continued to play for a short time before eventually being substituted. To fully grasp the magnitude of this injury, consider these details:

  • Lennon’s jaw was fractured in two separate places, requiring surgery and the insertion of metal plates to hold it together.
  • The injury left him unable to eat solid foods for several weeks, causing him to lose significant weight.
  • Lennon returned to football eight weeks after the injury, showcasing his determination and resilience.

This incident serves as a testament to the physical toll that soccer can take on its players and their unwavering dedication to the sport.

As fans and fellow players we can’t help but admire the grit and passion Neil Lennon displayed during this challenging time in his career.

His story is a powerful reminder of athletes’ sacrifices to pursue their dreams and the unbreakable bonds forged within the soccer community.

9. Radamel Falcao’s ACL Tear

In football, few injuries can bring a player’s career to a screeching halt, like an ACL tear, which is precisely what Radamel Falcao faced in 2014.

As a member of the same football-loving community. You can probably recall the shock and concern you felt when the news broke about Falcao’s devastating injury.

On January 22, 2014, the Colombian striker. Playing for AS Monaco then, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee during a French Cup match against Chasselay Monts d’Or Azergues.

This injury would prematurely end his season and dashed his hopes of representing Colombia in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

The road to recovery for Falcao was long and arduous. Filled with months of rehabilitation and uncertainty regarding his future in the sport.

As a fellow football enthusiast, you can imagine the emotional toll this must have taken on him.

However, through sheer determination and hard work. Falcao managed to make a remarkable comeback.

He returned to the pitch in August 2014. Just seven months after his injury and scored numerous goals for club and country.

Although his career has had its ups and downs since the injury. Falcao’s resilience and dedication to the sport inspire fans and players alike.

So, as you continue to follow the beautiful game. Remember the journey of Radamel Falcao and how he overcame adversity to leave his mark on the sport we all cherish.

10. Aaron Ramsey’s Leg Break

As you witness the highs and lows of football, you can’t help but remember Aaron Ramsey’s horrific leg break. It serves as a stark reminder of the physical risks involved in this beloved sport.

The incident occurred on February 27, 2010, during Arsenal’s Premier League match against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.

Ramsey, a promising young midfielder for Arsenal, was only 19 when he collided with Stoke City defender Ryan Shaw cross. The collision resulted in a double fracture to his right tibia and fibula.

The sight was so gruesome that some players on the pitch were visibly distraught and television broadcasters opted not to show replays of the tackle.

As a member of the football community you can’t help but feel empathy for Ramsey and his long road to recovery.

The Welshman’s determination and resilience were genuinely inspiring as he spent nearly nine months in rehabilitation before returning to the pitch.

Despite the severity of the injury. Ramsey has gone on to have a successful career. Both at Arsenal and now with Juventus.

His journey is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the unwavering support football fans provide to their fellow enthusiasts in times of adversity.

As you continue to enjoy the beautiful game. Remember the stories like Aaron Ramsey’s. Which remind us of the power of perseverance and the importance of unity within the football community.

11. Luke Shaw’s Broken Leg

As we continue our journey through the most gruesome soccer injuries. We move from Aaron Ramsey’s unfortunate leg break to another incident that shocked the football world. Brace yourself as we delve into the story of Luke Shaw’s horrifying broken leg.

In 2015, Luke Shaw played for Manchester United as a talented young left-back. He faced a career-threatening injury during a Champions League match against PSV Eindhoven.

In the 15th minute of the game, Shaw made a strong run into the opponent’s penalty area. PSV’s defender Hector Moreno made a reckless sliding tackle causing Shaw’s leg to snap. This resulted in a double fracture of his right tibia and fibula.

The stadium fell silent as the 20-year-old player lay on the ground in immense pain. You could feel the distress among fellow players and fans alike.

After receiving emergency medical attention on the pitch. Shaw was stretchered off and underwent surgery the following day.

This devastating injury kept him out of the game for almost a year. However, his determination and resilience allowed him to make a successful comeback to the sport he loves.

12. Antonio Valencia’s Ankle Fracture

You might remember the stomach-churning image of Antonio Valencia’s ankle fracture when his foot dangled like a broken puppet’s limb after a horrific tackle during a 2010 match.

The Ecuadorian winger who played for Manchester United then was challenging for the ball with Rangers’ Kirk Broadfoot in a Champions League group stage match when the terrible incident occurred.

Valencia’s ankle twisted unnaturally under him and the extent of the damage was immediately apparent to everyone watching.

The sight of his teammates’ horrified reactions and the medical team’s swift response underscored the seriousness of the injury.

As a soccer fan you understand the sport’s risks and the devastating impact an injury like this can have on a player’s career.

To help you grasp the full extent of Valencia’s ordeal. Here’s a breakdown of some key elements related to his ankle fracture:

  • The injury itself: Valencia suffered a dislocated ankle and a broken fibula, requiring immediate surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation process.
  • Recovery time: Valencia took around six months to fully recover from the injury. During which he missed a significant portion of the 2010-2011 season.
  • Impact on his career: Despite the injury’s severe nature. Valencia returned to action and continued to be a key player for Manchester United, eventually becoming the team’s captain.
  • Legacy: Valencia’s determination to bounce back from such a horrifying injury has inspired many demonstrating the resilience and strength of character that soccer players often possess.

As a passionate follower of soccer you can’t help but feel a sense of belonging and admiration for the players who face adversity head-on and emerge stronger than before.

Valencia’s story is a prime example of the unyielding spirit that makes soccer such a captivating sport for fans worldwide.

13. Alan Smith’s Leg and Ankle Injury

Imagine the shock and horror when witnessing Alan Smith’s leg and ankle injury. Which is undoubtedly one of the most unforgettable moments in football history.

This devastating incident occurred during a heated match between Manchester United and Liverpool in February 2006.

Smith, a talented midfielder for Manchester United then was attempting to block a free kick from Liverpool’s John Arne Riise when the unthinkable happened.

The sheer force of the kick, combined with the awkward position of Smith’s leg as he tried to block it. Resulted in a compound fracture of his left leg and a dislocated ankle that left him writhing in pain on the pitch.

The entire stadium held its breath as medical staff rushed to Smith’s aid while players from both teams looked on in disbelief and concern.

The severity of the injury was such that Smith had to be stretchered off the field and taken to a nearby hospital for emergency treatment.

It took months of grueling rehabilitation and multiple surgeries for Smith to return to the football pitch. Still his determination and resilience throughout the process earned him the admiration of fans and fellow players.

Although Smith’s career was never quite the same after the injury. His journey back to the sport is a testament to the unwavering spirit of footballers and their undying love for the game.

Related: Most Shredded Soccer Players Of All Time

14. Francesco Totti’s Ankle Injury

As we move on from the gruesome injury that Alan Smith suffered. Let’s now focus on another unforgettable incident involving a legendary player.

This time, the Italian icon Francesco Totti faced a threatening ankle injury that would leave him sidelined for months.

In the 2006 World Cup, Francesco Totti was a key player for Italy as they pursued their fourth championship title. However, during a match against Switzerland, Totti’s ankle was severely injured in a tackle from behind.

The tackle was so brutal that it caused a compound fracture of his fibula and torn ligaments in his ankle.

Despite the excruciating pain. Totti displayed unwavering determination and courage as he continued to play until the end of the match. Contributing to Italy’s successful campaign.

This injury would test Totti’s physical resilience and mental strength. As he fought to overcome the setback and return to the top of his game.

15. Andre Gomes’ Ankle Dislocation

Consider the sheer agony Andre Gomes must’ve felt. When his ankle was gruesomely dislocated during a match leaving spectators and fellow players alike horrified and heartbroken.

This devastating injury occurred on November 3, 2019. During a Premier League match between Everton and Tottenham Hotspur.

The Portuguese midfielder suffered a severe ankle dislocation and fracture due to a challenge from Son Heung-min and a subsequent collision with Serge Aurier.

The incident left everyone on the field and in the stands in shock as Gomes writhed in pain and even seasoned professionals struggled to maintain their composure.

As a soccer fan, you can’t help but empathize with Gomes and recall the details of that fateful day:

  1. The tackle: Son’s tackle from behind caused Gomes to lose his balance and stumble forward, ultimately colliding with Aurier.
  2. The immediate aftermath: Players from both teams as well as the referee quickly called for medical assistance and Gomes was stretchered off the field.
  3. The recovery: After successful surgery Gomes made a remarkable recovery and returned to Everton’s starting lineup 112 days after the incident.

Injuries like this remind us of the risks athletes. Take every time they step onto the field and their resilience and determination to overcome adversity.

Andre Gomes’ journey back to the pitch is an inspiring example for fans and fellow players.

16. Marcin Wasilewski’s Leg Break

Now that we’ve discussed Andre Gomes’s horrifying ankle dislocation. Let’s move forward to another heart-wrenching injury that shocked the soccer world.

Brace yourself as we delve into the gruesome leg break suffered by Marcin Wasilewski. Which will undoubtedly leave you cringing in empathy for the player.

In September 2009 Marcin Wasilewski a Polish defender playing. For RSC Anderlecht experienced a career-altering injury during a match against Standard Liège.

In a horrifying turn of events Wasilewski’s leg was broken in two places after a reckless tackle from Liège’s Axel Witsel.

The impact of the challenge was so severe that it left Wasilewski’s foot hanging from his leg. Leaving onlookers and fellow players in shock.

With determination and extensive rehabilitation Wasilewski made a remarkable comeback to professional soccer earning a spot in Poland’s national team.

As a soccer fan you can’t help but feel a sense of belonging and admiration for Wasilewski’s resilience and strength in the face of adversity.

17. Petr Čech’s Skull Fracture

Remember the chilling incident when Petr Čech suffered a skull fracture? You can’t help but wince at the memory of that dreadful collision on the field.

It was back in 2006 when Čech playing as the goalkeeper for Chelsea faced Reading at the Madejski Stadium.

Within just the first minute of the match Čech collided with Reading midfielder Stephen Hunt. Who was attempting to reach the ball.

The impact left Čech with a depressed skull fracture. One of the most severe head injuries a player can endure.

The extent of the injury was so critical that it required immediate surgery and Čech was out of action for three months.

As a testament to his strength and determination Čech returned to the field wearing a protective headgear. Which became his signature look for the rest of his career.

His journey of recovery and perseverance resonated with fans and he continues to inspire players and supporters alike.

Looking back at the top 20 worst soccer injuries of all time. Petr Čech’s skull fracture serves as an essential reminder of the risks involved in the sport. While showcasing the resilience and passion found within its players.

18. Kieron Dyer’s Broken Leg

Imagine the horror you felt witnessing Kieron Dyer’s leg break during a match an incident that still sends shivers down the spines of soccer fans everywhere.

The devastating injury occurred on August 12, 2007. When Dyer playing for West Ham United collided with Bristol Rovers’ Joe Jacobson in an attempt to win the ball.

The impact resulted in a sickening double compound fracture of Dyer’s. Rght leg with his tibia and fibula snapping like twigs.

The anguish on his face and the horrified reactions of his teammates and opponents alike were telling of the severity of the injury.

Leaving everyone on the field and in the stands feeling a sense of shock and empathy for the stricken player.

The road to recovery was long and arduous for Dyer. Who underwent multiple surgeries and extensive rehabilitation before finally returning to competitive soccer more than a year later.

His determination and resilience in the face of such adversity inspire fellow players and fans alike reminding us of the strength of the human spirit and the power of perseverance.

As we reflect on the top 20 worst soccer injuries of all time Kieron Dyer’s broken leg stands out as a testament.

To the risks athletes take for the love of the game and their remarkable resilience in overcoming the most daunting obstacles.

19. Ewald Lienen’s Thigh Injury

It’s hard to forget Ewald Lienen’s gruesome thigh injury which occurred during a match in 1981 and resulted in a staggering 23 stitches to repair the horrific gash. A testament to the unexpected dangers that can arise in the sport we love.

The German midfielder was playing for Arminia Bielefeld in a fierce Bundesliga match against Werder Bremen.

when defender Norbert Siegmann mistimed a tackle causing his studs to tear through Lienen’s flesh and expose the bone of his thigh.

Despite the excruciating pain and shock Lienen didn’t crumble to the ground instead he displayed. Incredible resilience and determination by getting up and confronting his opponent and the referee about the difficult challenge.

As soccer enthusiasts we can’t help but feel a sense of camaraderie and admiration for Lienen’s courage and passion for the game even in the face of such a gruesome injury.

The incident is a stark reminder that soccer players put their bodies on the line for the sport they love and their dedication and commitment to the game can inspire us all.

Lienen’s injury not only demonstrated the physical risks involved in soccer but also highlighted the importance of sportsmanship and the responsibility. We share as fans to support and appreciate the sacrifices made by these athletes.

So, as we gather to watch our favorite teams and players compete. Let’s remember to celebrate the spirit of the game and the sense of belonging that unites us all.

20. Alfie Barker’s Broken Neck

Alfie Barker’s broken neck story will leave you breathless. Showcasing the incredible resilience and determination of a player who faced unimaginable adversity on the field.

In a match between Hitchin Town and Arlesey Town in 2016. Barker suffered a life-threatening injury that could have ended his career and life.

The collision with an opposing player resulted in a broken neck and several other serious injuries.

Despite the grave situation. Alfie Barker displayed an unshakable spirit and dedication to return to the sport he loved.

After spending nine months in rehabilitation. Barker remarkably recovered and returned to the pitch in 2017.

In his first game, he scored a hat trick proving that his passion for soccer remained undiminished. Since then Barker has continued to play and inspire others with his incredible story of perseverance and determination.

Alfie Barker’s journey back to the field is a testament to the power of resilience and the human spirit. It serves as a reminder that one can overcome even the most challenging obstacles with unwavering dedication and a robust support system.

As a soccer fan you can’t help but feel a sense of belonging and pride in witnessing such an awe-inspiring comeback story.


As you’ve journeyed through this gruesome hall of fame. It’s clear that soccer like any sport carries risks that can send shivers down your spine.

From broken legs to life-threatening injuries these harrowing tales will make even the most seasoned fan wince and pray for the players’ recovery.

In the end, let’s remember that these athletes put their bodies on the line for the love of the game. Their resilience to bounce back after such devastating events is awe-inspiring.

Manuel Esposito

Hello everyone! My name is Manuel and I've recently got my PhD in Sport and Excercise Science at the University of Portsmouth. I'm raised and born in New York, and I've been a big fan of soccer my whole life. Soccer is the reason why I got my PhD in Sport and Excercise Science, and my goal with this blog is to help you improve your soccer techniques, strategies, and knowledge!

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