How injured England stars have fared at major tournaments

Beckham’s broken metatarsal gripped the nation, Rooney should have MISSED the 2006 World Cup and the row over Robson’s shoulder in ’86… how injured England stars fared at major tournaments with Southgate gambling on both Henderson and Maguire

  • Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson are big doubts heading into the Euros
  • Maguire missed Man United’s end to the 2020-21 season with an ankle injury
  • Liverpool star Henderson hasn’t played since February due to a groin problem
  • Sportsmail looks at how injured England stars have got on at major tournaments 
  • Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here.

After Gareth Southgate named his 26-man England squad for this summer’s Euros, there were plenty of talking points – most notably Trent Alexander-Arnold’s last-gasp inclusion and a raft of fitness concerns for key players.

Southgate named both Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson in his squad but the Liverpool captain is unlikely to play in the opening match against Croatia while Maguire is still working his way back to fitness.

Henderson hasn’t played since February after sustaining a groin injury for the Reds against Everton while Manchester United centre back Maguire is currently sidelined with an ankle injury, and was recently on crutches. 

Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson remains an injury concern for England ahead of the Euros

Harry Maguire was on crutches not so long ago and is in a race against time to return to fitness

Southgate was dealt another blow on Wednesday night when Alexander-Arnold suffered a thigh injury in a friendly with Austria, ruling him out of the tournament completely. 

Former England and United centre back Rio Ferdinand slammed Maguire’s inclusion earlier this week – claiming it ‘doesn’t make sense’.

‘I’ve been in squads with players who haven’t been fit and they don’t perform when they’re not themselves,’ Ferdinand told FIVE. ‘It happened with Becks [Beckham] and Wazza [Rooney]. As good as Maguire is, he’s not a Becks or a Wazza.

‘I don’t think you should take someone who’s not 100 per cent fit. It’s hard to come back and get into a rhythm.

‘That narrative ends up taking over the squad and it becomes the conversation and a distraction. Do we really need that? It’s pointless I think. Hopefully he proves me wrong, I would love it if he did.’

So following Ferdinand’s strong opinion on the matter, Sportsmail has decided to take a look back at how injured England stars have fared at major tournaments (including Beckham and Rooney) and whether it was the right decision to take them.


Let’s date back to 1986 first of all, and Robson’s nightmare experience at the World Cup in Mexico.

Injuries had blighted Robson’s campaign for Manchester United during the 1985-96 season, and less than three months before the World Cup was set to start, the Red Devils captain had dislocated his shoulder once more – an injury he had sustained just 14 months earlier.

A club vs country row was brewing as England wanted him to undergo an operation so that he would be fully fit for the World Cup, but United said no as they needed their captain for the title run-in.

Bryan Robson was plagued by a shoulder injury in the build-up and at the 1986 World Cup

Robson would soon return for United but more injury problems would follow and he sat out the season’s finale. However, he was on the plane with the England squad heading out to Mexico.

But agonisingly, England’s worst fears were realised when Robson re-aggravated the existing shoulder injury in the second game of the group stage against Morocco.

The injury prevented Robson participating any further in the flagship tournament and England were eventually knocked out by Argentina at the quarter-final stage, in a game that is still remembered to this day due to Diego Maradona’s moment of madness and magic…


Now we take a look back at Beckham’s injury rollercoaster that gripped the nation heading into the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan.

Beckham, the Three Lions captain at the time, was on the receiving end of a reckless challenge when Man United took on Deportivo La Coruna in the Champions League in April 2002.

Beckham had sustained a broken metatarsal and his involvement at the World Cup just months later was put into massive doubt.

David Beckham sustained a broken metatarsal in the lead up to the 2002 World Cup

Beckham, despite his injury doubts, played in most of England’s 2002 World Cup campaign

The injury prevented the England midfielder from playing for United for the remainder of the 2001-02 season but he was still deemed fit enough by then Three Lions boss Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Despite a seven-week absence, Beckham played England’s first match of the tournament against Sweden before he was eventually replaced around the hour-mark due to a lack of match fitness.

Then in the next match, against Argentina, Beckham scored a spot-kick that is still fondly remembered to this day as England ran out 1-0 winners.

Beckham would go onto start every match for England before they were dumped out of the World Cup at the quarter-final stage by eventual champions Brazil – with Ronaldinho scoring the winning goal.


Chelsea captain and centre back Terry had problems of his own leading into the 2004 European Championships in Portugal.

Terry’s Euro hopes took a blow when he injured his hamstring in a warm-up match against Japan.

As a result, the England defender sat out the first game of the Euros vs France, but he was straight back in the starting line-up against Switzerland.

The Chelsea skipper then started the remainder of the matches before England were eventually knocked out by Portugal in an agonising penalty shoot-out in the quarters.


Four years on from Beckham’s rollercoaster, it was Rooney’s turn to sweat over his fitness after sustaining a metatarsal injury of his own.

Rooney suffered the heartbreaking injury in United’s defeat at Chelsea after a tackle from Paulo Ferreira. 

Surprisingly, Rooney was deemed fit enough to travel to Germany with England but he did sit out of the opening group match against Paraguay.

He was then eased into the World Cup, coming off the bench against Trinidad and Tobago before starting in the 2-2 draw with Sweden in England’s final group encounter.

Wayne Rooney broke his metatarsal playing for Man United against Chelsea in April 2006

Rooney’s World Cup campaign ended in disaster after he was shown a straight red vs Portugal

But he lacked match fitness and never really got going. He would end up goalless as England bowed out of the World Cup at the quarter-final stage again against Portugal.

And Rooney hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons as England were dumped out – receiving a straight red card for stamping on Ricardo Carvalho.

Reflecting back on that fateful tournament, Rooney himself admitted to the Sunday Times: ‘Looking back, I should never have gone to that World Cup. In the same position again, I’d rule myself out.’


There were more injury concerns in the striker department for Eriksson to contend with ahead of the 2006 World Cup. 

Just like Rooney’s injury, Michael Owen missed most of the second half of the 2005-06 season with a metatarsal problem after suffering the setback in December against Tottenham.

However, in a desperate bid to prove he would be fit enough for the start of the tournament, Owen ran out for England’s B team in a friendly against Belarus.

Owen evidently did enough to convince Eriksson to pick him but it didn’t go to plan in Germany at the World Cup for the striker, who was plagued by injuries for most parts of his career.

Michael Owen ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament against Sweden at the 2006 World Cup

After starting the first two games, with Rooney struggling with his metatarsal problem, Owen’s World Cup campaign soon came to a shuddering halt.

In the final group match against Sweden, Owen ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament and he was forced to the sidelines for nearly a year.

And like Rooney, Owen has since admitted that it wasn’t the right decision for him to travel to Germany.   

‘When you look back, perhaps foolishly I went to the World Cup because I had not played enough for Newcastle at the end to suggest I was fit,’ Owen admitted to the Chronicle in 2013.


While not on the same scale as his previous injury in 2006, Rooney again had been plagued by problems heading into the 2010 World Cup in South Africa – which was a disastrous campaign for England.

Just weeks before the World Cup was about to kick-off, Rooney injured his neck during the latter stages of a friendly win over Mexico at Wembley, which sparked yet more concerns about his fitness.

Just a month before, Rooney had been struck down by ankle and groin injuries that wrecked United’s bid for Premier League and Champions League glory.

And when the World Cup came around, Rooney was far from himself – and failed to score in four matches as England were eliminated at the last-16 stage by Germany in a 4-1 thrashing. 

Rooney also struggled with injuries ahead of the 2010 World Cup and was far from his best


Just like Rooney, Barry was a concern ahead of the South Africa World Cup, having sustained an ankle injury in the penultimate match of the Premier League season for for Manchester City.

Then England boss Fabio Capello was keen to stress the importance of Barry prior to the tournament, insisting the midfielder gives balance to his side.

And Capello decided to choose Barry in his travelling squad, which failed to live up to expectations.

Having missed out against the United States in England’s opening match, Barry played in every other clash before the Three Lions were embarrassed by Germany during the round of 16.


Wilshere’s inclusion in Roy Hodgson’s squad for the Euros in 2016 surprised many supporters.

There was no denying Wilshere’s talent, but injuries plagued him ahead of the major tournament in France and it didn’t look likely he would be selected.

Wilshere had started just one match for Arsenal all season during 2015-16, but Hodgson decided to put his faith in the midfielder.

But he started just one match all tournament at the Euros, in the drab goalless draw against Slovakia in the final group match.

England were then humiliated as they were knocked out by minnows Iceland at the last-16 stage. Wilshere came on at half-time as the Three Lions desperately searched for a route back into the game, but he couldn’t make the difference. 

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