Injuries are unfortunately a part of football. Many footballers have seen promising careers blighted by injuries which might have ended or set back their careers. One of these players is Italian forward Giuseppe Rossi, a wonderfully talented player who without doubt would have enjoyed a glorious career were it not for the curse of injury.
Rossi was born in New Jersey in 1987, and made the move to his parents native Italy in 2000 as a 12-year-old to join the academy of Parma. After progressing at the north Italian club, Rossi caught the attention of Sir Alex Ferguson who acted swiftly by bringing the forward to Manchester United in 2004. Rossi instantly impressed United’s staff, which saw Ferguson hand Rossi his Premier League debut on October 15th 2005 away to Sunderland. Rossi replaced Ruud van Nistelrooy with twelve minutes remaining of the game with United 2-1 up and sealed the win for Ferguson’s men. After receiving the ball from Wayne Rooney, Rossi dropped his shoulder and hit a low shot with his wonderful left-foot into the bottom corner. Rossi had introduced himself to the world.
After finding first-team opportunities limited, Rossi joined Newcastle on loan for the first half of the 2006/07 season. It became a frustrating spell at Tyneside, as Rossi struggled to get into the team and make an impact. Instead, the Italian returned “home” to Parma on loan for the rest of the season in January. With Parma struggling, Rossi went straight into the team and scored nine goals in 19 appearances as he helped the club avoid relegation. After this taste of first team football, and United’s signing of Carlos Tevez, Rossi realised the importance of playing regularly and joined Villarreal in the summer of 2007.
Rossi instantly hit the ground running at El Madrigal, scoring 13, 15 and 17 goals respectively in his first three seasons in Spain. The 2010/11 season, however, saw Rossi’s real breakthrough. The 23-year-old was prolific throughout and scored an impressive 32 goals in all competitions for Villarreal. His spectacular form saw Villarreal enjoy a terrific season where they finished fourth in La Liga which qualified them for the Champions League, reached the semi-finals of the Europa League and made it to the quarter-finals of the Copa Del Rey. Rossi’s form saw Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona make their interest known, but Villarreal’s asking price of 30 million euros proved to much even for Barca, who signed Alexis Sanchez instead.
The start of the following season would see the start of Rossi’s injury hell. On October 26 2011, he injured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, which forced him out for six months. After months of hard work Rossi returned in late March 2012, but once again, luck wasn’t on his side. A repetition on the same injury to the same knee forced him out for a further 10 months, which meant he missed the 2012 European Championships.
During his rehabilitation, Fiorentina took a chance on the forward and agreed a deal with Villarreal to sign Rossi on a four-year-contract in January 2013 for a fee of approximately 11,8 million euros. Rossi made his debut for La Viola on the final day of the 2012/13 season, ending 20 months of injury hell. The start of the 2013/14 season saw the return of Giuseppe Rossi as he looked like the player Guardiola had wanted to sign two years previously. A complete attacking player, he impressed with his quick and mobile style using his acceleration, excellent technique, dribbling ability and creative passing. Above all, he showed that he didn’t forget how to finish in his spell on the sidelines, he again proved to be one of Europe’s best and most deadly finishers. Rossi opened the season in fantastic form, scoring 14 goals in 18 matches including a hat-trick against Juventus in a 4-2 win which saw Fiorentina’s first win in Florence against their arch-rivals for 15 years.
“A genius of football”.
In the process, Rossi regained his place in the national team as Cesare Prandelli seemed happy to build a team around the partnership of Rossi and Mario Balotelli going into the 2014 World Cup.
But as you would know by now, there would be another blow. On January 5th in 2014, Rossi was tackled from behind by Livorno’s Leandro Rinaudo which resulted in a second-degree sprain of the medial collateral ligament in his right knee. The injury forced him out until May, and while he regained his fitness, Prandelli opted against including him in the squad for Brazil. Another tournament heartbreak for Rossi, but he would have hoped to carry his excellent form that season into the next. However, once again that right knee would prove problematic. Before the season even started, on August 14th 2014, Rossi injured the medial meniscus on his right knee. The injury was initially expected to force him out for five months, but Rossi didn’t return until 30th august 2015.
Now, Rossi seems fit and is being eased back into Serie A football by Paulo Sousa. It remains to be seen whether or not Rossi can reach the heights of his past, but there is still quality in the 28-year-old. I watched him live a month ago as he came off the bench against Roma, and he made an immediate impact with a pass to set Federico Bernardeschi through on goal. The pass exuded the quality of his left-foot, the technique and the vision this truly wonderful football still has.
Rossi has achieved a lot in football, more than most, but because of the hell he’s endured with injuries in the last four years there will always be a case of ‘what if?’. The talented youngster signed by Ferguson became one of Europe’s best forwards under a few years but if it hadn’t been for that first injury in 2011, Rossi would surely have made an even greater impact in European football. He still boasts the excellent record of 19 goals in 34 appearances for Fiorentina, has 30 caps for Italy and scored 82 goals for Villarreal, but the career of Giuseppe Rossi serves as a reminder of the cruel reality that injuries bring to football. They will always exist, but that doesn’t make it any less unfortunate.