There’s nothing quite as frustrating as a supporter than having a player that you know is among the best in the world, but never reaches their full potential due to a string of injuries. Fans of almost every Premier League team have been through that with at least one player, but watching some players deal with injuries can be more devastating because you knew they were once bound to be all-time greats.
Out of all of the players that have dealt with injuries throughout their careers in the Premier League, these five were the ones that seemed to be on their way to being legends, only to have setback after setback as they were hampered by injuries.
Canadian-born Owen Hargreaves made his way to Europe from North America as a teenager, entering Bayern Munich’s youth system in 1997. He would begin his professional career with Bayern, as well, and after lengthy negotiations, he would join Manchester United in 2007 in one of the most anticipated transfers ever.
The injury problems for Hargreaves began before he even suited up for Man U, though. In the year leading up to his joining the squad, Hargreaves was dealing with several minor injuries and then broke his leg, which never fully recovered. Hargreaves then dealt with painful patellar tendinitis and had some of the worst knees that doctors had ever seen. Physicians attempted to help Hargreaves, but there was no recovery in sight and he retired in 2011 with just 29 EPL appearances.
There is perhaps no great example of a great career that was derailed by injury quite like Jack Wilshere’s. While coming up through Arsenal’s youth academy, Wilshire was one of the finest midfield prospects that some had ever seen. He made his senior club debut in 2008 and appeared in a total of 125 matches with Arsenal before joining West Ham in 2018.
Wilshere remained with West Ham until 2020 and ended his career with AFC Bournemouth and finally AGF in Denmark. During the 2011-12 season, Wilshere fractured his ankle in a friendly, which started his long list of problems. Wilshire picked up injury after injury, and he expressed his frustrations about not being able to stay healthy.
Dean Ashton began his professional football career with Crewe Alexandra, and made his English Premier League debut in 2005 with Norwich City. He appeared in 44 matches with the club, and finished out his career with 46 more appearances with West Ham from 2006 to 2009 before retiring at just 26 years old.
Ashton had lingering injuries throughout his career, but there was one in particular that essentially ruined his career. While training with the English national team in 2006, Ashton broke his ankle and it never fully recovered. Surgeons advised Ashton to cut his career short or else he’d be unable to walk eventually.
Daniel Sturridge was just six years old when he joined the Aston Villa academy, while also spending time with Coventry City and Manchester City’s youth academies. He would join the latter’s senior squad in 2006 and made 21 appearances before joining Chelsea in 2009. Sturridge also spent time with Bolton, Liverpool, and West Brom during his English career.
Sturridge often missed weeks at a time with various injuries, which really started to pick up in 2013. He’s missed extended time due to groin strains, sprained ankles, and much more. One hip injury, in particular, kept him out for nearly six months. Sturridge simply couldn’t stay on the pitch long enough to reach his full potential.
After spending time with five different youth academies, Abou Diaby made his senior debut in France where he made just 10 appearances over three different years, and then made his way to Arsenal. Arsenal was the only EPL team that Diaby played for, as he ended his career with Marseille from 2015 to 2017.
Diaby’s injury problems started before he even made it to Arsenal, but the club was willing to take a chance on him due to his talents. It’s difficult to list all of the injuries that Diaby sustained, as he underwent multiple surgeries that slowed him down and kept him off the pitch.