List of injured World Cup stars keeps growing

Arjen Robben (Reuters)

When Didier Drogba and Rio Ferdinand went down with serious injuries, it became clear this World Cup would have its share of high-profile player losses. Little did we know how bad things would get.

Dutch star Arjen Robben was the latest player to join the list of the injured this past weekend, but he was hardly the only one. Honduran star Wilson Palacios was also hit with a serious injury, though it remains unclear just how bad his injured shin is after being taken to a hospital after Honduras' 3-0 loss to Romania.

Here is a rundown of top players are expected to either miss the World Cup entirely, or miss some part of the tournament due to recent injuries:

World Cup Wounded

Didier Drogba, Ivory Coast

Rio Ferdinand, England

Arjen Robben, Netherlands

Andrea Pirlo, Italy

Humberto Suazo, Chile

John Obi Mikel, Nigeria

Michael Essien, Ghana

Michael Ballack, Germany

Wilson Palacios, Honduras

What do you think of all these injuries? Which if these do you consider the most devastating to the player's team? Praying no Americans fall victim between now and Saturday's World Cup opener vs. England?

Share your thoughts below.

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71 Responses to List of injured World Cup stars keeps growing

  1. Matt Mathai says:

    It’s a tie between Essien for Ghana and Drogba for Ivory Coast for the highest-impact loss.

  2. Fireball says:

    Yeah on top of Hargreaves, Beckham, Cabanas, Davies, Costly…

  3. Missoula says:

    Its a tragedy and a total bummer that so many stars are getting injured.

  4. jon says:

    The editing on small things like grammatical errors that rarely really effect the large picture of entries on a blog that is the first thing I go to for my morning noon and night itching for the beautiful game is getting ‘worse.’ Thanks for your work Ives.

  5. Erik V says:

    I have mixed feelings about Robben. Yes he can score impossible goals but he is also a diver. He’s a fragile player so it could be good it happens now and not during a Worldcup game. Now at least Holland can call up another player. One I would not mind being called up is Ruud Van Nistelrooy, he could be a great super sub for Holland. Or get Engelaar back who is a good backup for the midfield. Anyway hope his injury is not serious and he will make the worldcup after all.

  6. Christopher says:

    While there are indeed mistakes, I think the point is that we’re supposed to be discussing which injury is most important. We all know who Wilson Palacios plays for, so I don’t see how it’s necessary to be the first person to point out the mistake to everyone else.

    That said, Drogba’s injury and Robben’s injury (though I think Drogba will play with one usable arm) have officially removed those two teams from my pool of dark horse favorites. I still think Holland will go far, so Drogba’s injury ranks as the most important in my mind.

  7. dena says:

    The European club season is just too long, no surprise that players end up crocking before the World Cup.

  8. Dan Fontaine says:

    It’s sad for these guys to miss any of the World Cup. Feel especially bad for the African guys. Hopefully some of the injured can make it back and hopefully the bug stays away from the Yanks.

  9. John says:

    Any word on Rico Clark’s hamstring?

  10. RK says:

    The American media (mainly ESPN) seems to be very concerned over the loss of star power, fearing that the casual American soccer fan may not be as entertained by this WC, because Americans like them some stars!

    While there is a lot of talent on the injured list, Drogba is really the only key loss in this regard. Rio Ferdinand is not going to make any casual American jump out of their seat with superb defensive positioning, or even a great tackle. While Essien and Ballack are great players, they don’t have the flash or the flare of Ronaldo, Messi, Rooney, etc. These are the stars Americans want to see, and will be amazed by.

    Of course, to pure soccer fans, each player on the list takes a lot away from WC.

  11. AW says:

    Ives: How about Jermaine Jones, USA? The best DM in the Bundesliga before his injury — He almost certainly would have been a starter for the team if healthy. You could make a credible argument that he would have been our best player.

  12. Spectra says:

    I’m still praying that rooney is fatiqued

  13. Big Chil says:


  14. rob says:

    England is supposed to be playing a team from South Africa’s own league instead of an international team. I would expect a few more to be added to this list soon. Not to say that the league is made up of hacks, but, we’ll see.

  15. max says:

    He’s out of the world cup and Jermaine Jones is flying in to SA. With all the media on the team no one reported his ground breaking recovery…Can only hope.

  16. war says:

    Regardless of the injuries, this should still be a word cup, especially for the US. Herc and Buddle have 2 goals in 2 games. Jozy is back in training and will cause Terry problems with cards and test Ledley’s physical game. LD has 3 assists in 3 games. Dempsey is looking good on the ball. We have good attacking subs. The only negatives are that Findley can’t finish or give a final ball, and that although we have 7 goals in three games, we’ve conceded 6.

  17. Paul says:

    Good one never to forget. A Torres-Jones duo would, I believe, be deadly in the midfield.

    I would add Jose Bosingwa to the list of injured stars.

  18. jts says:


    However, ESPN will get their mojo going on Drogba playing with a broken, surgically repaired arm. They will interview everyone in his hometown and all will “hail” the amazing Drogba, playing with a broken arm.

    I do think he will get in a couple of minutes in some games, at least that looks how it is setting up.

    PS. This is a blog. Who cares about a couple of grammar errors or clear mistakes? (Honduras was identified in the article and all except the most casual reader knows he plays for Honduras and not Ghana). If you want perfect grammar go buy print media that has news that is 2 days old.

    I always viewed the blogs as the sort of bar discussion and don’t want top spend an extra 5 minutes reviewing for grammar and puncutation.

    Now, if the auhor of the article went on and on about how Palacios injury really hurts Ghana, especially with Essien out….howl away.

  19. N-Whit says:

    Did you notice that most, if not all the names on this list, are players who endured a long European season. Think the injures have anything to do with their bodies wearing down? I do.

  20. Jjank11 says:

    If Drogba doesn’t play, he might be the biggest injury. But I’m pretty sure Drogba and the Ivory Coast will do whatever they can to get him to play.
    Drogba is a hero and icon in Africa, I want to see him play.

    But as Fireball pointed out, there are some other injuries like Cabanas that will have huge impacts but some of the other injuries came much earlier and the national teams had time to adjust.

    Injuries for starting XI players will always be detrimental to teams.

  21. gas huffer says:

    How about Jozy? Any word?

  22. FCD says:

    Personally I will miss seeing Arjen Robben play. He is a load of fun to watch (except for the diving). Sarah Jessica Parker, I mean Rudd van Nistelroy would be a nice replacement. I love that guy.

    As far as hitting a team hard I would have to say Drogba if he is in fact unable to play.

  23. John says:

    I have a feeling that this World Cup is going to suck.

  24. Never First says:

    Yes, I think players are injured more frequently because of the long seasons. I also think clubs may pressure players to sit out if they are questionable (as we’ve seen with Charlie Davies). The clubs pay the bills. I don’t think that’s the case with the African stars because they’re going to want to play on their home continent.

  25. alex says:

    But then again some of these injuries are not serious enough to keep them out of the tournament. Drogba can wrap up that broken arm and play. I remember a CONCACAF champions league match between D.C united and someone else where someone had broken their arm but they wrapped it up and he went on to score a goal.

  26. alex says:

    Costly is injured?

  27. jcd says:


  28. PS says:

    I don’t understand people’s thinking on injuries. Soccer is a contact sport and injuries are inevitable. I expect every player to miss time every year due to injuries. The ones that don’t are the rare exceptions. Some fraction of major names missing the world cup is inevitable.

    Note also that a large percentage on the injury list are over 30. The world cup is a young man’s game.

  29. chupacabra says:

    Rooney’s biggest injury is his temper. I see a red card in his near future.

  30. chupacabra says:

    This year’s World Cup will be like an AYSO tournament, but instead of everybody getting participation trohphies everyone will go home with injuries instead, including the fans:

    link to

  31. jcd says:

    Is it really the long season that causes wear and tear or is it that the longer season provides a larger number of opportunities to have challenges that injure a player. Ballack (ankle) Drogba (fractured ulna, now surgically plated), Mikel (ankle), Ferdinand (Ligament damage), Essien (MCL) and Palacios (tibia) have all suffered injures that are trauma related, not wear and tear related.

    Subtracting the trauma injuries out, and because I’m too lazy to look up the Suazo injury, only Pirlo and Robben are soft tissue/muscular injuries. That’s TWO only in all of the World Cup which would be deemed over use injuries. In Robben’s case, hamstring injuries just happen, though he hadn’t dived in that game which could indicate he’s been diving all these years to effectively stave off hamstring injuries. Pirlo’s calf? Not sure, but crap happens as it did with Beckham.

    32 nations x 23 players = 736 players. Having a few go down with non-trauma related injuries would be expected and not the abnormal happening some are suggesting. If there is any correlation between injuries and playing longer into the season, my theory is that it simply is a numbers game where you’re exposing yourself to a greater number of potential injuries the more friendlies, qualifiers, club team games and even practices you participate in.

  32. Vik says:

    I’d say Ballack too. All three players were key to the lineup, [arguably] the team’s best player, as well as the captain of the side.

  33. Seisco says:

    morning, noon and night

  34. Let’s hope the States keep healthy. In the meantime, here’s a link to the Guardian’s (UK) Preview of the U.S. team…

    link to

    It reads… “The Stars and Stripes have few stellar performers.”

    We shall see.

  35. Jacob says:

    Can we have the U.S. guys practice in bubble wrap for the next week? The injury bug is making me mighty nervous.

  36. This Guy says:

    Let them continue to belittle us and we will rise just like 1776 and 1950

  37. Bobo says:

    Don’t worry we had that bug about a few months ago. See Holden, Clark, ect. We have paid our dues, now let the other countries have theirs.

  38. Leonardo says:

    Essien w/o a doubt! that guy is the heart of the Ghana team. they are done.

  39. Lil' Zeke says:

    Oh no, I’m sorry that story stung you. Keep in mind it’s tongue-in-cheek.

  40. jig says:


  41. jig says:

    Essien is the biggest loss. He’s the heartbeat of that Ghana team obviously, and there’s no one to replace him.

    HOWEVER, people that are saying this world cup is going to suck are idiots. All this really means is that there are going to be more young players that are going to get the chance to step up and show how good they are?

    No Ballack? Thats fine, I’m actually more excited to see Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller and Mesut Ozil anyway.

    No Pirlo? I’m a Pirlo fan, but he’s past it. Ricardo Montolivo and Claudio Marchisio are just as good.

    No Robben? Thats a bummer, but all it means is now Eljero Elia is going to see the pitch more, and thats quite exciting as well.

  42. Tyson says:

    Not sure if it was Josh Gross, but he seemed to be wearing a cast for his entire career. I miss that guy.

  43. Second City says:

    I wouldn’t dismiss Palacios’ impact on Honduras as anything less than Essien to Ghana or Drogba to Ivory Coast.

    While he may not be as much of a household name, Palacios is easily in the discussion for the best player in the CONCACAF region & definitely the heart and soul of Honduras.

    Losing Palacios (potentially) vastly effects a Honduras side that actually could have shocked a lot of people this World Cup run, in my opinion.

    They were definitely my dark horse.

  44. Stephen says:

    Can’t tell if that was supposed to be derogatory or not…

  45. Second City says:

    Everyone professing that the sky is falling due to a rash of injuries is displaying WAY TOO much overreaction.

    Would we like to see EVERY star healthy? Of course, not even a question.

    However, this is a sporting competition and injuries are a part of every competition. That’s what makes winning this so special: Skill, Effort and Luck (in no particular order).

    Injuries happen in sports. It doesn’t taint, take away or diminish the sacred glory that is…hoisting a World Cup.

    Please, everyone, take your tissue, hold your favorite stuffed animal and then buck up.

    The sky IS NOT falling.

  46. david B says:

    add Beckham to the list

  47. BrianK says:


    Ballack was the cernterpiece of a team that went to the final in 2002 and the semi-final in 2006. He is a HUGE loss for Germany!

  48. ZT says:

    Anyone else notice it’s A LOT of Chelsea players?

  49. FulhamPete says:

    That was the most vulgar and trite world cup preview I’ve read.

    Going for the cheap laugh, sure. But LD finally as good as he thinks he is? Harsh.

  50. Second City says:

    According to ESPN:

    He’s back to full training without limitation or hesitation and doesn’t even has his ankle taped/wrapped.

    i.e. Jozy will be ready to face England.

  51. BCC says:

    Maybe if he had ever played a game for us.

  52. BCC says:

    Yeah, you should definitely skip it and watch more baseball.

  53. Never First says:

    I normally love British humour, but this was more obnoxious than funny. The only thing worth noting about our players is Donovan “talking the talk” (which I must have missed, wasn’t it the media that hyped him?), Bradley’s “clogging” and Bocanegra’s horror challenge six years ago?

    I hope Bob Bradley makes everyone read this Saturday morning.

  54. Never First says:

    I agree, but I think most people are just bummed that arguably Africa’s two biggest stars are going to miss the first ever World Cup held in Africa. And I don’t remember there ever being so many injuries to key players so close to the World Cup.

  55. sprflycat says:


  56. aristotle says:

    Yeah, it’s sad. I don’t think we realize just how many good players are seemingly disappearing overnight from MLS. D.C. United seems like it was hit especially hard. No wonder they are such a mess right now. Then there’s players who are just struggling to get back to playing. I wonder if Twellman and Eskandarian are done. On the positive side Bobby Convey looks like he may be coming back from the dead. I’m still not sure what happened to him in the first place, but he is really starting to play well for San Jose now.

  57. jig says:

    who cares? dudes age. There were lots of guys that were centerpieces for teams back in 2002. Guess what? They arent as good 8 years on.

  58. jig says:

    People should also consider the fact that theres never been a world cup as stacked as this one in terms of the quality of the nations participating. What major power is sitting at home that would have added something to this tournament? Russia, maybe?

    In 2002, Holland didnt qualify, yet no one said the world cup was going to suck then because Davids, Kluivert, Overmars, Seedorf and Makaay werent there. All those dudes were world class players back then who missed out, just by different circumstances.

  59. OC says:

    Overturn the call, give him the perfect game

  60. notsweet81 says:

    Costly picked up an ankle injury playing for his club team in Romania 3 days before the 23-man rosters were announced. Rueda decided not to take him.

  61. Anthony says:

    I agree – it would be quite the motivational tool for the team to read this insightful article. Still – at the same time, the questions we should be asking are…

    What is our strategy against England? (not just our lineup)

    What are England’s weaknesses? (goalkeeper?)

    (Rooney’s temper?) (Terry’s speed?)

    What can we exploit in order for us to get a surprising 3 points?

  62. Erik says:

    Mn that sucks – Honduras is the feel good story of the cup

  63. patrick says:

    he may be in the discussion, but i dont think he beats out donovan, dempsey marquez amongst others

  64. alex says:

    totally agree. these players are expected to play way too many games with there being so many different club competitions

  65. nick says:

    Good teams missing include Russia, Sweden, Republic of Ireland, Czech Republic, Egypt, Turkey, Colombia, Ecuador

  66. Fireball says:

    I agree that it would be worth it to do the research to find out exactly what’s contributing, and if this is truly abnormal. It is true that more injuries happen (trauma or otherwise) when players are tired.

    But I would say that this year does seem abnormal as compared with previous years. I remember there were routine injuries before the last two WCs, but nothing like this.

  67. Fireball says:

    And Captains.

  68. drshepenlov says:


  69. chill says:

    the casual american soccer fan doesn’t even know who rico clark, jay demerit, jose torres, clarence goodson, or pretty much any other american player who is not in an espn commercial during mlb or nba games is…

    you can be sure no ‘casual’ american soccer fan knows drogba by name. we are not talking about beckham

  70. chill says:

    i can’t believe the first player mentioned isn’t ballack! drogba is a goal-scorer, not a goal-scorer/playmaker/offensive/defensive/all-around-everything player. ballack is the reason many established german players were left off the squad for younger, more risky ones.

    ballack is without question the most impactful loss

  71. chill says:

    i would much rather have seen costa rica over honduras