Carlo Cudicini's career hangs in the balance this weekend after a horrific motorcycle crash that saw him fracture both his wrists and badly injure his pelvis. The 36-year-old Tottenham Hotspur 'keeper was pulled from the mangled remains of his BMW motorbike after a collision with a Ford Fiesta.
Paramedics who attended to the Italian at the scene described his injuries as "life-changing" rather than life-threatening, which could only leave interested parties to believe that Cudicini's career as a professional footballer is possibly over.
The Italian shot-stopper was signed as backup to Heurelho Gomes last season after a 10 -year stint at Chelsea, where he played 141 times.
Initially, he was signed by the Pensioners on loan from Castel Di Sangro as a backup to Mark Bosnich and later Ed De Goey, but he quickly established himself as first choice at Stamford Bridge and would go on to be named as the best 'keeper in the Premiership in 2002 and 2003.
However, Jose Mourinho took over the Chelsea reigns in 2004 and signed Petr Cech as first-choice 'keeper, and Cudicini only played a bit part after that.
Although rivals for one position the two 'keepers became friends and Cech was one of the first people to visit Cudicini in hospital.
"It is very sad but sometimes life brings unfortunate situations," Cech told Chelsea's official website.
"I went and saw Carlo yesterday in the hospital. He has always been a great character and you can see he is coping well with it. He is doing well and he will undergo some operations today to help him to be as fit as possible.
"I think that everybody should keep fingers crossed for him to get well soon."
Even though the move to Spurs was only as second choice 'keeper, the Italian was thrust into action very quickly, as injuries and a lack of confidence combined to keep Gomes out of the first team.
Last summer, there was plenty of speculation that Harry Redknapp was interested in signing David James from his former club, Portsmouth. But Tottenham's chairman, Daniel Levy, poured cold water over the move, citing James' age of 39 as being too old.
Spurs now only have two fit goalkeepers on their books for the rest of the season, Gomes and David Button, who was called back from a successful loan spell at Crewe last week.
Importantly, Button has little first team experience, and with Spurs in the middle of a concerted push for European football, it would look as if Harry will look to sign experience.
You won't get any 'keeper any more experienced in EPL football than David James. Over his 21 years in professional football, he has battled through everything the game has had to throw at him.
And it says much of his professional character that at the age of 39 he is now on the verge of his greatest achievement in lining out for England in the World Cup in South Africa next year.
Redknapp is a huge fan of James and has tried to bring the 'keeper in before, and with Spurs doing well this year, it looks most likely that Levy will back Redknapp's judgement this time around.
James, of course, would only be interested in a move to Tottenham if he was guaranteed first team football. Otherwise, why move?
At Portsmouth he is unchallenged for his position, and would probably recognise that his standard of performance, wherever he may be, is more important to Fabio Capello in this World Cup year.
Such a move would also have ramifications for Gomes. The Brazilian probably has no chance of taking his place in Seleção Brasileira, as Júlio César is the undoubted first choice, but he would expect to be named in the squad.
But if James signs, then his chances of being named in the squad lessen. It would also be somewhat ironic for Gomes if he were dropped, as he has finally begun to show the kind of form that tempted Spurs to sign him in the first place.
Gomes suffered a torrid first six months at Tottenham prior to Cudicini's signing, and the Italian's presence somewhat intensified Gomes' concentration levels after he returned to the starting XI.
This year, he has once again suffered from injuries, and only returned to first team action last month. So far, he has put in a number of first-rate performances, most notably against Sunderland last week, where Gomes was in inspired form.
Cudicini has since been transferred to a private hospital on the request of Tottenham Hotspur, where he is now under the care of specialists.
"We have leading specialists looking after Carlo and once surgery is complete and his recovery is underway, we will have a clearer idea of how many weeks he will be out for," said head of medical services Wayne Diesel.
Manager Harry Redknapp said, "We are all sorry to hear about what has happened to Carlo. We are just relieved that the injuries that he sustained in the accident weren't more serious."
"Everyone at the Club sends their best wishes and we hope that he recovers soon."
Unfortunately for Cudicini, it now looks most likely that he will not pull on a Spurs jersey again this season.
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