"Jinxed" players. We've all seen our fair share of them. Whether it's because of a recurrent injury that continually sidelines them or simply the inability to capture any notable form. Sometimes, their inclusion signals some sort of bad omen for the team, where statistics stack up against their favour.
Whatever it may be, every team has a handful of players that fans would consider "unlucky." In many cases, their potential is undeniable. In a few, it's a collective team's inability to finally lift a prize coveted for several years on end.
Here is a list of the 13 most jinxed players in world football.
(P.S. This is a very subjective list, and I'm sure I'm missed out on some other obvious players. If you know any or disagree with my list, be sure to mention it in the comments section.)
Though not an individual footballer, Arsenal players heralding the No. 9 jersey of past years warrant a place on this list due to numerous yet obvious reasons.
First, it starts with Davor Suker, brought into the squad by Arsene Wenger and coming with an enormous reputation for being lethal in front of goal. The Croatian rose to prominence during 1998's FIFA World Cup, in which he finished top scorer and secured the prestigious Golden Boot award.
Unfortunately for Suker, a certain Frenchman with the name of Thierry Henry also began to find some form that very campaign, meaning the Croatian with an enormous attitude only really lasted one full season in North London.
In all, a disappointing return of eight goals plus the misfortune of starting an Arsenal career at the same time as Henry warrants him a place on this list.
Then there's Francis Jeffers, the English striker who earned the nickname as "fox in the box." Needless to say, he was known for his goal scoring prowess, specifically his predatory instincts in the box.
Jeffers was a player who arrived at Arsenal with significant potential—as also acknowledged by Arsene Wenger—but failed to live up to the heights with the club originally predicted for him.
He only managed four goals in three seasons with the Gunners, and eventually left for Charlton. Unfortunately for the Englishman, things just continued to spiral downwards from then on, as he was unable to establish himself on any level. He can now be found plying his trade with obscure Australian outfit Newcastle United Jets.
Of course, the most recent victim of Arsenal's "No. 9 jersey curse" was Croatian Eduardo da Silva. Arriving at North London with no reputation at all, Eduardo quickly established himself as a fan favourite by way of his precise finishes and eye for goal. It seemed at that time that for once, Arsene Wenger found the perfect player to fill the No. 9 jersey.
Unfortunately for Arsenal and of course the player himself, a reckless stomp in a March 2008 league fixture by Birmingham's Martin Taylor effectively ended his season, and arguably Arsenal career for good.
He never seemed to recover from then on, though he did manage to score a few more goals for the club. His confidence seemed shattered, and he seemed a player distant from the one who originally arrived at the club.
Eduardo can now be found playing with Ukrainian outfit Shaktar Donetsk.
(The exception to this slide is obviously Nikolas Anelka, as he managed to enjoy a successful tenure at the club before being sold to Real Madrid.)
Tottenham Hotspur's captain, Ledley King, is a great defender and reader of the game from the back. His aerial ability and unparalleled balance mean he's a defender who's established himself as a regular for both club and country.
Unfortunately for King though, he's also extremely injury-prone. A chronic knee injury has plagued his entire career at North London, preventing him from making a consistent string of performances for Tottenham.
An injury for which no cure or remedy exists, it's effectively ruled him out of contention from playing more than one game a week. An obvious loss to both club and country, as he's a player who could establish himself as one of the greatest to have ever graced the English Premier League.
For those who only recently started watching the English Premier League and Tottenham Hotspur, Gareth Bale's inclusion on this list is a peculiar one.
He's arguably one of the best wingers, if not players, in the league at the moment, and is one of the few individuals who can singlehandedly change the course of games.
But it wasn't too long ago that Gareth Bale had yet to be on a winning team for the Spurs. In fact, it took the Welshman two years to actually taste his first ever league victory, as he'd been seen as a bad omen by previous managers, having appeared in 24 games without winning.
His recurrent injury troubles, as well as Benoit Assou-Ekotto's rise to prominence during that time, meant Gareth Bale was not only playing second fiddle to the starting 11, but he was also a fan non-favourite for a long time at White Hart Lane.
Theo Walcott: England's future, Arsenal's wonderkid, the first 16-year-old who went to a FIFA World Cup. Walcott was arguably one of the most hyped players in England's recent history, as he was tagged as having bags of potential and speed.
Not surprisingly, Arsene Wenger, a man known for his admiration of youth and raw talent, was quick to sign him up, as he was seen as a potential "Henry 2.0." Whether the mercurial forward has yet achieved those heights, or is even close to doing so, is still a contested matter.
What isn't contested, though, is Walcott's horrid injury record. A string of recurrent injuries seems to have hampered his development, as well as amass a mob of critical fans ready to bemoan every miskick. Needless to say, Walcott is a player with obvious talent.
Perhaps it's the string of injuries, or simply impatience from the fans—though it could be a combination of both— but it's obvious Walcott isn't imposing himself and living up to the heights originally envisioned for him.
As player and captain for Liverpool, Steven Gerrard has won everything: the FA Cup, UEFA Cup, UEFA Super Cup, UEFA Champions League, Carling Cup, FA Community Shield. Essentially, Liverpool's inspirational captain has lifted it all.
Well, almost all.
Gerrard has never once won or lifted an English Premier League trophy, despite coming close on at least two occasions. While Liverpool's personnel has continued to rotate, the one constant in the team has been Gerrard. Whether he's the primary factor or "jinxed" player preventing the club from adding to their impressive tally of EPL titles cannot really be determined.
However, facts speak for themselves and, as it stands, Gerrard is yet to lift the most coveted prize in England.
A handful of football players can claim to have had a leg snapped in half when serving in "the line of duty." Djibril Cisse is one of the very few in world football that can boast having broken both on two separate occasions.
And that truly is the only reason he makes this list. Oh, and of course a few subpar tenures with Liverpool, Marseille and Sunderland. Whether it's a result of the aforementioned injuries, though, one cannot be certain.
To Arsenal fans, and of course observers of the English Premier League, it's not hard to see why Tomas Rosicky would make such a list.
Having arrived in England with a massive reputation, Rosicky seemed the perfect sort of "silky" player who could adapt to Arsene Wenger and Arsenal's philosophy of fast-flowing football.
But as so many other talented players before him, Tomas Rosicky's body simply couldn't adapt to the demands and pace of the English game. A series of injuries, including one year-long one, meant he was demoted from automatic starter to backup player. A surprising and arguably unjust faith for someone as talented as he is.
Though his progression seems to be on a sort of recovery path, as he's put in a string of impressive performances in succession, the saying "what if" will always apply to Tomas Rosicky when it comes to Arsenal fans.
A player who could have been so much more ended up being so much less.
Whether it's just a case of being over-hyped by the English-dominated media on the eve of every single international tournament, or just a matter of stars not "showing and stepping up" when it's required of them to do so, one simply cannot point to.
What is certain though is that England seem to ALWAYS fail when it comes to impressing at international tournaments. Despite being heralded as "England's golden generation" every single year, the team seems unable to actually assert themselves on the international scene.
Some experts pin this on the team's over-reliance on "ancient" strategies. This may perhaps be the case. It is obvious, though, that the tactic of "getting stuck in" really isn't working for England at this point.
It's odd to see a player with the talent and skill set of Mikel Arteta fail to make his respective national team. Long- and short-range shots and passes, great vision and of course a knack for set pieces, Arteta seems the complete midfield package capable of cutting it with every team competing at every level. He's also a Barcelona youth academy graduate!
Unfortunately for Arteta, he existed at a time when Spain were undergoing their greatest ever football evolution. With the likes of Andres Iniesta and Xavi, Mikel Arteta had the simple misfortune of having to compete with fellow Spaniards who were simply "a cut above the rest."
In another time, in another generation, Mikel Arteta would have been a shoo-in for the national team. For that, the Spaniard makes the list.
Arsenal fans aware of David Bentley's swift ascent from the reserves to first-team cameo football knew all too well that the Englishman had bags of natural talent waiting to be tapped.
Unfortunately for the young Englishman, though, the one thing his game was lacking was patience, as at the tender of age of just 20 after two unsuccessful loan spells, he handed in a transfer request citing a lack of first-team action at Arsenal.
It was also later revealed by the player himself that during his time on the bench at Arsenal, he was slowly losing his enjoyment and "love" for football, as he felt troubled and frustrated by not being handed a starting role.
Whatever the case is, his descent from a formidable talent to an arguable waste of it gets him included in this list as a player whose career has been "jinxed."
One of several footballers who make this list simply due to their persistent injury problems. Jonathan Woodgate, as fellow list inductee Ledley King, had the potential to be one of the greatest defenders in English Premier League history.
His long-term injury problems seemed to follow him right from the get-go, as he only managed to make a 100 or so appearances in five years with his first club, Leeds United FC. His reputation and talent, though, were still intact, as he finally earned his big break joining Spanish giants Real Madrid in 2004.
Unfortunately for him, that move amounted to pretty much nothing, as he only managed a measly eight appearances in three years with the club.
For all his injury woes, Woodgate comfortably finds himself on our list of "jinxed" players.
Though he seems to finally have found a new club—following a brief moment of free agency—Owen Hargreaves' inclusion in this list is one that requires little justification or explanation.
Touted as "England's most natural midfielder" when fit, Hargreaves is capable of putting in some truly spellbinding appearances. Gifted with immense accuracy and a tireless engine, Hargreaves truly was one of a kind.
Unfortunately, he seems to also be made of glass. His 27 appearances over the course of four years with Manchester United truly speak for themselves in this case.
This video depicting John Terry's horrid penalty miss in the UEFA Champions League final is enough explanation and reason as to why he's included on this list.
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