It’s easy to forget the physicality of sports from the comfort of our stadium seats or living rooms. We lapse into a spectator’s perspective and sometimes view the players as characters in a grand drama, conveniently omitting the all too human nature of the game and the fragility of the human body. Injuries are ubiquitous to the sporting world, regardless of game. Certainly, players in certain sports are more injury prone than others; I don’t think anyone would compare the tennis elbow of a top 20 player with the ravages of a professional hockey player’s fractured neck. Still, injuries are a subject virtually all athletes can find some common ground over.
Injuries in soccer can be particularly frustrating for players, even more so than NHL or NFL players, especially around this time of year. Unlike those athletes, who only compete in one league for one team – with the exception of when the Olympics roll around – most of the best soccer talents in the world play fairly regularly for their national teams. International friendlies occur throughout the year, and continental championships usually occur in between World Cups. There’s international competitions going on every year, but the World Cup is undisputedly the biggest one of them all. Although it surely differs from player to player, many of them place a great deal of pride in their performance for their national teams. It’s wonderful to win championships with your coworkers for the club that pays your salary, but carrying the hopes of your home nation with a team full of your peers must be a magical experience.
Sadly, even after qualifying, players have to ensure that they remain healthy for the tournament in June. Given the physical nature of the game, there are no certainties that a player can make it through the season without any major injuries. It’s far too easy to acquire an injury that can put you on the shelf until after the World Cup’s conclusion. Here are some quality players who, unfortunately, have picked up injuries that will keep them from representing their home nation in Brazil a few weeks from now.
5 Theo Walcott – England/Arsenal
4 Sami Khedira – Germany/Real Madrid
3 Giuseppe Rossi – Italy/Florentina
2 Kevin Strootman – Netherlands/Roma
1 Radamel Falcao – Colombia/Monaco
Finally we come to the man who, in truth, inspired this entire article. Radamel Falcao is one of the most prolific goal scorers of the world, and is frequently cited as one of the top players active today. He’s been the key to victory for virtually every team he’s ever played for, including FC Porto, Atlético Madrid, and now AS Monaco. He plays for the Colombian national team, whom he arguably single handedly carried to the finals of the tournament. In late January he sustained a knee injury that initially almost certainly ruled him out of the World Cup in June. Fortunately, like Rossi and Khedira, his prognosis has since improved. After his surgery he was given 50/50 odds on being fit enough to play in the World Cup, depending on how his recovery goes. Falcao’s recovery from injury has since become somewhat of a movement worldwide, especially on social media. The hashtag ‘Fuerza Tigre’ – which means strong tiger in Spanish – has since become the slogan of support for Falcao from all of his fans worldwide. Colombian clubs have taken to wearing the slogan on their t-shirts during warm-ups and notable figures such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have both come out urging Falcao onward and admitting that the World Cup would not be the same without the presence of one of the world’s top players. Falcao himself had kept a very positive attitude in public, and is said getting healthy for the World Cup is his number one objective. Hopefully the Colombian striker will be able to touch down in Brazil and lead his native Colombia to glory in June.
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