The third part in the series looking at players whose careers were either cut short by injury, or whose potential was never fully realised because of them. For Part One click here and Part Two click here.
At the age of 23, Dean Ashton was looking upwards. He had risen through the football ranks, from Crewe in League Two to West Ham in the Premier League, via a successful spell with Norwich City, and had just made it into the England squad.
However, it was whilst on England duty that he broke his ankle In August 2006, and was forced eventually to miss the whole of the forthcoming season.
He returned to fitness the following campaign and even, eventually made his belated international debut, but it proved to be a false dawn for Ashton. He sprained his ankle in a training session, and, at the age of 26, was forced into early retirement having failed to properly recover from his original injury.
West Ham filed a writ against the Football Association for negligence, whilst Ashton started his own legal case for loss off earnings.
Coventry defender David Buust is best remembered for the injury which ended his career.
In April 1996, his side was playing a league game at Old Trafford, when two minuets after the kick-off, Buust ventured forward for a corner that his side had won. As the ball came off, Buust collided with the United pair of Brain McClair and Denis Irwin, suffering in the process extensive compound fractures to the both the fibula and tibia of his right leg.
It took nine minutes for the match to be restarted. Before Busst was carried off on a stretcher, whilst sand and water had to eb sued to help clean his blood from the pitch.
So horrific were his injuries that United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel vomited after seeing them, and he required counselling afterwards, as did several other players.
Busst needed 26 operations after the injury and was never able to play professional; football again.
Before he became a manager, Brian Clough was once a top class striker, making 274 appearances for Middlesbrough and Sunderland, and scoring 251 goals. He was capped by England at under-23 level, played for their B side and then earned two England csps before his career was ended by injury.
In a match against Bury in December 1962, in icy conditions and torrential rain, Clough raced through on gaol only to collide with Bury goalkeeper Chris Parker. Cloiugh tore the medial and cruciate ligament in his knee, an injury, which at that time, normally signalled the end of a player’s career.
Defying the odds, he returned two years later, , but he could only manage three games before he had to face the bitter truth and was forced to hang up his playing boots for good.
Determined to stay in football, he then launched his managerial career.
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.