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Hard knocks

Hard  knocks
The worst thing that can ever happen to a sports-<g data-gr-id="183">personis</g> an injury when they are in scintillating form. The body of a sports personality is like a well-oiled machine as well as their source of livelihood. If a part of it is damaged, a player’s career can go downhill or in extreme cases, it can even end. Just with the blink of an eye, a player in the form of his/her life can succumb to an injury. 

Coming back from a debilitating injury and regaining that previous form is almost always <g data-gr-id="220">a near</g> impossible process. Looking back in history, there have been successful comebacks from injuries but in a majority of cases, an athlete’s career ends trying to replicate the form he/she had before the injury. Here’s looking at some of the most devastating injuries that professional players had to face before they decided to continue their journey or in some cases just called it a day.

Mark Boucher (Cricket): 
Even though the chance of injury in cricket is relatively less than most other sports, the Gentleman’s game has often been plagued by its fair share of injuries. One of the major ones is when South African <g data-gr-id="188">wicket keeper</g> Mark Boucher had to retire because of an eye injury. While keeping for South Africa during their warm-up fixture against Somerset in their 2012 tour of England, Imran Tahir bowled Somerset batsman Gemaal Hussain, during which the <g data-gr-id="189">bail</g> flew towards Boucher’s eye and caused a cut on his left eyeball, causing it to bleed. Boucher was diagnosed immediately with a lacerated eyeball and was forced to retire.

Saba Karim (Cricket): 
Another career brought to a premature end after a devastating eye injury. Karim finally got his much-awaited chance to don the peacock blue jersey during South Africa’s tour of India in 2000. Fate, however, had other plans for him. He was struck on the right eye by an Anil Kumble delivery during a match against Bangladesh in the Asia Cup tournament held in the same year. Before he could make a mark in Indian colours, Karim had to hang up his boots for good following surgery.

Sachin Tendulkar (Cricket): 
Now for one of the biggies. Before 2004, Sachin Tendulkar was considered a demigod in India. During 2004, the Master Blaster almost hung up his bat due to a tennis elbow injury which made it impossible for him to wield his weapon of choice. A warrior, a demigod, a symbol of hope to millions of cricket lovers all over the world, had been proven to be mortal. The injury took 7 months off his already illustrious career. If he had decided to hang up his boots then, no one would have blamed him. He had already established himself to be a legend among peers and fans alike, but that was not how the Little Master wanted to go. After the successful surgery, the doctors said that it might be impossible for him to play at the highest level again but they forgot who they were talking about. 

Tendulkar not only played again but fulfilled his lifelong dream of lifting the World Cup for India in 2011, thereby cementing himself as an icon in modern cricketing lore. This was a rare instance when after an injury, a player regained his form and went on to build on his legacy.

Rafael Nadal (Tennis): 
When you see Nadal play, you wonder how one could actually play with such raw and aggressive power and still maintain a measure of control in a match. Inside the tennis court, Nadal is the perfect storm. He would pass his opponents by with such ferocity that his opponents would be left clutching at straws at the end of the match. With his aggressive playing style, it was just a matter of time till his body parts started creaking under pressure. For Nadal, his Achilles heel was his knees. In 2012, he suffered a recurrence of chronic knee injuries which put him on the shelf for over an extended period of time. In the past 6 years, this gladiator has gone down to serious injuries, 4 times.  He keeps coming back, but every time but his once invincible armour shows more and more <g data-gr-id="191">chinks</g> with each passing day.

David Busst (Football): 
During a match at Old Trafford in April 1996, the Coventry defender David Busst collided with Manchester United defender Denis Irwin which resulted in <g data-gr-id="184">Busst</g> getting his leg broken so badly that the bone pierced the skin and blood had to be cleared from the pitch. He had a compound fracture of his tibia and fibula and never played again. The injury was so graphic that United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, who had to bear witness to it, required counseling.

Maria Sharapova (Tennis):
This is an instance when an injury slowed down all the momentum that an athlete built before it. In 2008, Maria Sharapova was in peak form when a shoulder injury brought her down. After surgery, she had to take a whole year off before she was cleared to return. In 2012, she completed her Grand Slam after winning the elusive French Open but this wasn’t the same Sharapova who was dominating every court she set her foot on. Due to the injury she had to change her playing style which is a pity because nowadays she makes <g data-gr-id="227">more double</g> faults than she used to before the injury. Yes, she made a comeback and is still considered one of the elites in the game but if it wasn’t for the injury who knows what could have been.

Alf-Inge <g data-gr-id="182">Haland</g> (Football): 
This is a controversial pick but warrants a place in this list for that one tackle which may or may not have ended a player’s career. Perhaps the most widely known injury in the football world, the script of <g data-gr-id="190">Haland’s</g> horrendous injury at the hands or should I say the feet of Manchester United’s resident bad boy Roy Keane would put any revenge drama to shame. It all started in In September 1997 when Manchester United were losing 1–0 to Håland's Leeds United, Keane injured his anterior cruciate ligament trying to tackle Håland. 

As Keane lay prone on the ground, Håland criticised Keane for an attempted foul and suggested that he was feigning injury to avoid punishment. Keane was sidelined for one year after that match. Fast forward to April 2001, Keane fouled Håland on his right knee, for which he was sent off. Initially, Keane was simply fined £5,000 and received a three-match ban. 

However, his biography admitted that it was an act of vengeance over Håland for the criticism he received three and a half years previously. But the twist in the tale is that Roy Keane hit <g data-gr-id="185">Haland</g> on his right knee, and <g data-gr-id="186">Haland</g> retired a few games later because of trouble in his left knee so it is entirely possible that Keane’s tackle may not have ended<g data-gr-id="187">Haland’s</g> career. 

"It’s no coincidence that Sachin Tendulkar has <g data-gr-id="203">everytime</g> bounced back really well from all the major injury setbacks. He knuckled down and took on board every little thing the physio and the doctor told him. He was very committed to his rehab. He always saw the big picture. Throughout his <g data-gr-id="201">career</g> he was barely bothered by injury- John Gloster, Indian team’s physiotherapist from early 2005 to 2008

Sayak Dutta

Sayak Dutta

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