Iceland’s talisman Gylfi Sigurdsson is a major doubt for this summer’s World Cup in Russia after reportedly sustaining knee ligament damage.
According to the Liverpool Echo, the 28-year-old injured his knee during Everton‘s victory over Brighton on Saturday in the Premier League.
It is thought he will now miss the rest of the league season and faces a race against time to make the World Cup, which begins in June.
Ask any sportsperson what the worst part about their job is and 99 times out of 100, the reply will be ‘being injured’.
World-class sports science, recovery and rehabilitation techniques have made spells on the treatment table shorter and more bearable than ever before, but still, it is a hollow feeling when your body prevents you from doing what you’re best at.
Hopefully, Harry Kane‘s ankle roll in Tottenham’s win at Bournemouth on Sunday isn’t too serious but sometimes a small injury and a few weeks on the sidelines can do an athlete some good. That’s not to say getting injured should be at the top of anyone’s to-do list.
Injuries are part and parcel of sport, however, and time away from the spotlight and day-to-day physical exertions can actually help the body recharge and catch-up on much-needed rest and recuperation.
It seems a mad thought, right? You’d be right to think that but such is the pressure on sports people to perform and push their capabilities to the maximum, injury is often the only time to rest during peak-season and important competitions. Indeed, it’s not just the original problem you’re trying to fix – it’s actually a period where other areas of the body can get a new lease of life.
A good case in point is Wales rugby star Sam Warburton. The two-time former Lions skipper recently revealed that extensive time out to solve his chronic back and neck problems helped his body overall. Up to now, he had never been able to sufficiently rest after eight years of toil at the highest level and he admitted that injury is often the only chance for an elite performer to do just that.
It all links back to the fact that there is so much at stake now for an individual – earning power, commercial value and status, sponsorship commitments and an overall livelihood dependent on staying fit. But, sometimes, you have to listen to your body and take advantage of a break in play.
Spurs and England fans will be hoping a scan on Kane’s ankle reveals no serious damage – and with a World Cup looming – he’ll be desperate to get back quickly. England don’t want a rush against time, à la Wayne Rooney or David Beckham in previous years, but, interestingly, the Three Lions could benefit if the 24-year-old has to spend a bit of time away from the pitch getting back to full fitness, and ironing out any other niggles which he carried over the busy winter period.
With Tottenham out of the Champions League, it’s not the worst time for Kane to recuperate given he played in all but one European match and the same goes for the Premier League this season. He has led the Lilywhites superbly, with 35 goals in 38 appearances in all competitions, and if he’s back in action before March is out or start of April, he still has an integral role to play in the challenge for a top-four berth and Mauricio Pochettino’s pursuit of the Emirates FA Cup.
While he could miss forthcoming friendlies against Holland and Italy, Kane is England’s main man and a guaranteed starter. He will have next to no time to rest after the end of this campaign with friendlies to come before their World Cup campaign begins in Russia begins on June 18. So, maybe it’s time to look at this as a blessing in disguise.
Lionel Messi‘s talent from dead ball situations is partly down to his work with former Argentina boss and footballing legend Diego Maradona.
The two geniuses worked together for two years between 2008 and 2010, with the ‘Golden Boy’ disclosing his free-kick secrets to Barcelona star Messi whilst on international duty.
The Blaugrana maestro has always been special from set-piece situations but has this season reached the peak of his free-kick powers. Indeed, he has netted superb long-range efforts in each of his past three matches.
And, according to Fernando Signorini – Argentina’s former fitness coach at the time when Maradona was in charge – the 1986 World Cup winner was the man who helped develop Messi’s craft.
In a fascinating interview with LaSexta, Signorini said the Napoli cult hero had to work regularly with Messi to turn him into a specialist.
“I started walking to where Diego was, and at the same moment I see Messi place the ball down,” he said, recalling the occasion when Messi was practising in training.
“He (Messi) takes three shots and misses all three and turned to us with a look of clear frustration.
“He turns towards the dressing room and I shout ‘no’ before hugging him and telling him that the best player in the world can’t leave a training session like that.”
Maradona and Messi then apparently conversed in the middle of the pitch – and offered some words of wisdom, in which Signorini explained.
“Diego arrives and they talk to each other, the world seems to stop at that moment.
“He places the ball in the same place and then gives some very paternal words.
“He told him not to take his foot off the ball so quickly when he takes a free-kick.”