It takes years of hard work and dedication to become a professional footballer.
For every thousand boys – or girls – that dream of becoming a major star, less than one will ever go on to sign a professional contract.
And, even then, the odds of making it in the game are long, as the large number of academy graduates released each year, and the free agents testify.
And even then, there can be luck involved. Some may have started to enjoy glittering careers, only for it all to be cut short by injury. The list is long of those who seemed to have the world at their feet, only for to be cruelly taken away from them.
Here are some of the players whose careers were badly affected by injury.
Marco van Basten
With Milan he won three European Cups, four Serie A titles and a host of other silverware.
Twice Serie A player of the year, he won the Ballon D’or three times and also won the 1988 European Championships with Holland, with his volley in the final still regarded as one of the best goals ever scored.
Many believe that he might have gone on to set even more records, but persistent ankle injuries brought it all to a premature end. At the age of 28, and not having kicked a ball for two years, he was forced to hang up his boots.
During his time at Spurs, winger Darren Anderton was injured so often, that he acquired the nickname “sicknote”. However, it was not ways the case for a player who began his professional career with Portsmouth and was early on flagged as a player with big potential.
The man known as the “Swan of Utrecht” achieved a lot in a relatively short career. H scored 277 goals in just 373 club games, winning three Eredivisie titles and four Cups with Ajax, before moving to AC Milan, where together with fellow Dutch imports Ruud Gullitt and Frank Rijkaard, they formed part of what became the dream team.
Bigger clubs began to take notice and Spurs paid £1.75 million for him in 1992.
Two years later Terry Venables gave him his England debut, and he soon became an international regular.
But he spent more time on the treatment table then he did on the pitch, and was released on a free transfer to Birmingham City in 2004. There he continued to struggle with injuries, and it was the same at his later clubs Wolves and Bournemouth.
Abu Diaby was meant to be the successor to Patrick Vieira in the centre of the Arsenal midfield. He was tall, rangy, with an excellent passing range, and the ability to get in the box as well, he joined the Gunners in 2006 from Auxerre.
However, in May 2006, he was on the end of a terrible tackle by Sunderland defender Dan Smith – who went on to become a milkman – widely described in the press as horrendous. He suffered a severe ankle fracture, and underwent three surgeries to repair what was a potentially career ending injury.
He made various comebacks over the years and Arsenal kept giving him contract extensions, but in the end, Diaby could never stay fit for a sustained period of time.
In 2015 he joined Marseille, but made just five appearances for them before retiring form football four years later aged 32.
Andy is an exiled English football fan living in Cyprus. He loves all sports but football is his abiding passion, and he still has dreams every now and then about scoring the winning goal in a Wembley Cup Final, even though his playing days are long gone. He follows most major leagues, across Europe at least, and has a favoured team in each. When he’s not watching, listening, reading or downloading podcasts about football, he spend his time worrying about his beloved Arsenal.