5 Footballers Who Missed Out on the ‘GOAT’ Status Due to Injuries

5 Footballers Who Missed Out on the ‘GOAT’ Status Due to Injuries

Isaac Darko
  • There are some footballers should have been vying for the GOAT title
  • However, they failed to reach their maximum potential due to injuries
  • Here are five of the top players whose careers were ruined by injuries

Football is a game of passion, skill, and dedication. Despite all the positive aspects of this magnificent game, it can be devastating to witness some of the best players miss time due to injuries.

Unfortunately, some of the most gifted footballers have had their careers cut short by injuries and even overcoming the mental aspect often requires great bravery and tenacity.

Ronaldo de Lima, Adriano, Marco van Basten
Sports Brief looks at footballers who had the potential to be the greatest of all-time if not for injuries. Photos by Patrick Hertzog/Martina Hellmann/Etsuo Hara.
Source: Getty Images

Sports Brief examines five football stars who, but for injuries, might have gone down as the best of all time.

Ronaldo Nazario

He will forever be remembered as one of the best strikers in football history. Ronaldo absolutely lit it up for some of the best teams in Europe throughout his career, winning three FIFA Player of the Year awards and being one of the most lethal forwards of the 1990s and early 2000s.

Exciting feature: Check out news exactly for YOU ➡️ click on "Recommended for you" and enjoy!

Affectionately known as 'The Phenomenon', the Brazilian made it to Europe after the 1994 World Cup as he joined PSV Eindhoven from Cruzeiro.

The mercurial goal poacher's predatory instincts, along with his supersonic speed and amazing skillset, made scoring goals appear simple. His immense quality rendered defenders speechless.

Additionally, Ronaldo had some very clever moves up his sleeve and was well known for his signature stepovers to get the better of defenders, particularly goalkeepers in one-on-one scenarios.

However, R9's career was cruelly marred by crippling leg injuries, which prevented him from ever reaching his full potential despite his career's abundance of victories.

Ronaldo was still able to achieve tremendous success despite his setbacks, but many think he could have done even better if he had remained injury-free.


Adriano Leite Ribeiro, known simply as Adriano, was a monstrous striker with an extensive toolkit. He had excellent dribbling abilities, was strong, and could shoot hard.

However, his career was derailed by ongoing muscle injuries and psychological problems that kept him from reaching his full potential.

He had problems with alcohol and weight, which affected how well he played on the field. Despite this, Adriano was still able to win several championships and score over 100 goals in his tenure.

Michael Owen

When he first appeared on the scene as a teenager playing for Liverpool, Michael Owen rapidly made a name for himself as one of the game's most promising young talents. He scored more than 150 Premier League goals and earned the Ballon d'Or in 2001.

The Liverpool legend was prolific for both club and country. He received numerous individual honours and led England to the 2002 World Cup quarter-finals, losing 2-1 to eventual winners, Brazil.

However, his career was derailed by a series of injuries, including a serious knee injury, which eventually forced him to retire.

Gareth Bale

The legendary Wales winger was once regarded as one of football's most promising young players. Bale was a nightmare for defenders to contain because of his explosive runs and amazing speed.

However, the electrifying left-footed player had a series of injuries, including ankle and calf problems that plagued his stint at Real Madrid.

Despite his setbacks, the ex-Tottenham Hotspur star has been successful in the UEFA Champions League, winning the tournament five times.

But it is difficult to help but wonder what he might have been able to accomplish if he had stayed injury-free.

Marco Van Basten

The Dutchman was a prolific goal-scorer who led his country to win the 1988 European Championship. He had a sublime touch, was deadly in front of the goal, and received numerous personal accolades.

Unfortunately, the AC Milan hitman's career was cut short by a persistent ankle injury, forcing him to retire at the age of 28.

Van Basten made an impact on the game despite playing for a brief time and is still regarded as one of the best attackers of all time.