Injuries are the bane of sports people across the world. There is nothing more frustrating for professional athletes than to suffer setbacks due to the breakdown of their bodies.
The ailments can come in all shapes and forms, whether it be a devastating break of a bone or just gradual wear and tear of muscles due to the toll of playing their respective game.
Durability shapes careers. Some athletes are more durable than others. It could be down to genetics or simply a better training routine. Luck is also a major factor as injuries can occur at any time during life even when you’re away from the action.
We’ll now look at some of the players that have been most affected by injuries in high-profile sports.
Jack Wilshere’s career is the epitome of what could have been. The midfielder is arguably one of the most talented players at his position to have emerged in England over the last 20 years.
However, he has never managed to play for a meaningful period in the Premier League to reach the peak of his powers. At the age of 27, Wilshere has made only 243 appearances at club level, which is remarkable given that he began his career 11 years ago.
There has not been one injury that has been the source of his problems. Wilshere has endured troublesome ankle issues that have kept him out for weeks at times, although, at other periods, it has been more serious and has required surgeries.
The 2010/11 season remains his most fruitful year where he made 49 appearances. However, it was all downhill from that point, including losing the entirety of his 2011/12 campaign along with the majority of the 2015/16 season.
Those issues have continued at West Ham, where, again, he has spent more time in the treatment room than on the pitch.
Wilshere has been unfortunate but his issues appear to stem from a genetic problem. His ankle and his legs are unable to take the strain of playing football at the highest level.
His career has been derailed by numerous injuries and it does create an interesting parallel between him and his former Arsenal team-mate Aaron Ramsey.
Ramsey suffered a horrific leg break against Stoke in a challenge with Ryan Shawcross just when he was emerging at the Gunners. There were fears at the time that Ramsey’s career could be in jeopardy, much like Abou Diaby's after that tackle from Dan Smith in 2006.
However, Ramsey returned to action 247 days later but it took time for him to find his feet on the pitch, following two loan spells in the Championship.
He has enjoyed an impressive 10-year tenure with the club and will move on to Juventus (4/1 at the time of writing in the online betting to win the Champions League) at the end of the campaign, receiving a lucrative contract.
Simon Jones was an integral part of the England team that regained the Ashes for the first time in 19 years when they defeated Australia in 2005.
The Glamorgan quick broke into the England team in 2002, making his debut against India at Lord’s where he claimed four wickets in a comfortable win for Nasser Hussain’s men.
He did not appear in the rest of the series, although he was named in England’s squad for the Ashes. However, Jones suffered a horrendous knee injury at the Gabba in the opening Test of the series.
The fast bowler caught his knee in the turf when fielding on the boundary, rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament. It was a devastating injury and one that ruled him out of action for almost 18 months in an England shirt.
Jones did make a comeback and found his form in 2004 to help England achieve victories over the West Indies home and away, South Africa on the road along with New Zealand on home soil.
He was in prime form ahead of the Ashes as England’s potent quartet of seam bowlers.
During the four matches, he played a part of, Jones claimed 18 wickets at an outstanding average of 21, including two five-wicket hauls – producing his best figures of 6-53 at Old Trafford.
His injury problems returned as an ankle ailment ruled him out of the final match of the series. It would prove to be the final game of his Test career.
Persistent knee and ankle injuries knocked the paceman back every time he attempted to make a comeback at international level.
His run-up and style of bowling placed huge pressure on his ankles and knees – similar to that of Mark Wood in the current England team (12/5 favourites with betting sites to win the 2019 World Cup).
Jones’ knees and ankle were unable to take the stress of the impact, particularly given the heavy workload of a bowler of his ilk in Test matches. It was a huge blow to England, who missed his presence on the field.
Injuries are commonplace in the NFL due to the nature of the game. One of the most intriguing players in recent history has been Rob Gronkowski – both on and off the field.
Gronkowksi has been a dominant force on the field during his nine years in the NFL. The New England Patriots selected him 42nd overall in the 2010 Draft as the other 31 teams appeared to have concerns over Gronkowski’s back injury that had caused him issues during his college football career.
Gronkowski made an immediate impact in his first two seasons with Tom Brady, notching 28 touchdowns on the Patriots’ way to Super Bowl XLVI and often being favourite in live betting markets to be the next scorer.
However, Gronkowski suffered the first of a number of injuries that would plague his NFL career. Bernard Pollard tackled him and landed on his ankle in New England’s win over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game. His ankle sprain limited his impact in the Super Bowl where the Patriots were beaten by the New York Giants.
He returned to full health for the 2012 campaign and was operating at the peak of his powers for 11 matches before suffering a broken arm blocking on an extra-point kick. It ruled him out for four weeks before he exacerbated the problem in the playoffs.
Matters got worse in the off-season with an infection. The injury has remained, as Gronkowski stills wears a protective arm brace till this day, while, in the same off-season, he underwent back surgery.
The tight end was limited in 2013, missing the first seven weeks of the term. Gronkowski was outstanding during his time on the field before he suffered a devastating torn ACL against the Cleveland Browns from a hit by TJ Ward.
The injury was severe and he did look back to his best until midway through the 2014 season.
Gronkowski was influential in the Patriots’ Super Bowl win in 2014, scoring a vital touchdown but missed their triumph in 2016 with an alarming back problem.
Like the iron man, he returned for 2017 and was outstanding in the season and the Super Bowl, although it resulted in a defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles. The 2018 term highlighted the toll NFL has taken on Gronkowski’s body.
The numerous hits are due to his style of play, breaking through challenges and blows. He put forward one of the worst statistical seasons of his career in 2018, although he did make crucial plays in the Patriots’ Super Bowl win over the Los Angeles Rams.
Gronkowski is debating retirement after years of pain through injuries. He was not an injury-prone player but a victim of his own size and strength, which caused bigger hits and a lot of time on the sidelines.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*