He hadn’t played in months, let alone score a goal but Owen Hargreaves is now being linked to a return to the England set up following a ‘dream’ debut against Birmingham.
The former Bayern Munich midfielder has had a nightmare last 15 months or so but now he has been tipped to return to his best after scoring on his Man City debut during their Carling Cup win over Birmingham. Hargreaves scored the opener on debut, his first game since last November when he made a brief appearance for United against Wolves before hobbling off injured. Ironically I was at that game and when the announcer told the United faithful that the hugely popular midfielder was to return lifted the whole stadium. All 75,000 or so fans were not only silenced but saddened at the sight of the Canadian born midfield limp off after just five minutes. He was later released by United after making just 27 appearances for them in four years. It seemed as though it was the end for Hargreaves who has been affected so much by injuries in what was a promising career.
He went to new lengths during the summer in order to find a new club by posting several videos on Youtube in an attempt to prove his fitness. There were numerous reported offers from clubs offering pay as you pay deals including West Brom and Vancouver White Caps. It seemed as though he would be club less until the very last hour when on deadline day, Man City revealed a quite remarkable signing. They had signed the England midfielder on a free transfer, to the shock of the foot balling world and especially Man United fans.
He was excluded from their Champions League squad but after his debut on Wednesday. He has gone from the brink of retirement to reigniting his career in 55 minutes. It is quite a remarkable turn around for a player who we all know has so much quality but the big question is can he stay fit? If he proves himself, which he did in Wednesday’s game then he could well feature more often then expected for City.
He has resurrected his career and fair play to him for doing so. Those countless hours and days in the gym getting fit have paid off and now we could see the return of a player who most of us though we would never see again on the pitch.
He is not the only footballer to make an incredible comeback from injury though, I look at some other foot balling comebacks…
The former Rep of Ireland full back had retired in 2008 after a series of injuries. Less then a year later, struggling Birmingham City came calling and he duly responded, leading them to promotion, becoming their captain and then lifting the Carling Cup last year. He is still playing at 35.
The former Leeds defender has had an injury hit career to say the least but he seems to have turned a corner after signing for Stoke. He has enjoyed a solid season so far with the Potters and has featured in most of their league games so far. He says it is down to the man management of Stoke boss Tony Pulis who understands Woodgate’s needs.
The French striker has suffered two broken legs but still fights on. The second one apparently nearly left him needing amputation but despite this he returned to football and made the 2010 World Cup squad before earning a contract with Lazio.
Ruud van Nistelrooy:
The former Man United striker was one of the Premier League’s most clincical front men but before he even moved to England there were question marks about his fitness. The Dutch striker has suffered from knee injuries all his career but still managed to become one of the World’s most prolific forward.
If you can think of any other players who have made remarkable returns from injury or retirement, not just in football but any sport, get in touch now. You can contact me via Twitter @ryanbaileysport or leave a comment below.
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