The strangest reasons why players missed games

From Rio Ferdinand playing too much PlayStation to Fernando Redondo refusing to cut his hair… after Artem Dzyuba was dropped by Russia following a leaked masturbation video, Sportsmail looks at the strangest reasons for players missing games

  • Artem Dzyuba became the latest player to miss a game for a bizarre reason
  • A video of the Russian forward masturbating was leaked online this week
  • As a result he was dropped from the national team leaving Dzyuba ‘close to tears’
  • But he’s not the first player to be banned or miss a game for a weird reason
  • Here, Sportsmail looks at the strangest reasons why players missed matches

Over the years, footballers have either missed games through injuries or bans in relation to on-field events, leaving them out for the game or two if they’re lucky.

However, some of those fortunate enough to play at the highest level have been the victims of their own downfall.

On Sunday, Zenit St Petersburg and Russia striker Artem Dzyuba became the latest player to fall into this category after a video of him lying on a bed masturbating was leaked online, leading to him being dropped from the national team.

Artem Dzyuba was dropped from Russia squad after a video of him masturbating was leaked

Dzyuba appeared in a video online thanking fans for their support after his incident

The forward, who was also dropped as Zenit’s club captain, took to social media on Monday to admit that he ‘only has himself to blame’ in the wake of the embarrassing incident.

While Dzyuba’s case is unique, it isn’t the first time an off-the-field incident has affected a player’s first-team squad status. 

From the downright stupid to the utterly bizarre, here are some of the weirdest reasons why players have missed games over the years.

Game over for Rio

Too much of a good thing can become a bad thing – and Rio Ferdinand found that out the hard way.

During some downtime back in his Leeds United days, the defender had his feet up on the coffee table while playing Pro Evolution Soccer on the PlayStation.

However, during the gaming session, Ferdinand suffered a muscle injury and ended up missing a run of games for the Yorkshire club.

It safe to say that he could go down as the only professional player to get a real-life injury from a football video game. 

While playing for Leeds, Rio Ferdinand (L) injured his leg while relaxing and playing PlayStation

No trim for Redondo

In the last 30 years or so, footballers have put a lot more time into their image and building a brand for themselves.

David Beckham is the most high-profile player to do this in recent memory after he became a global celebrity while at Manchester United, with his haircuts often a big talking point in the media.

While Becks changed his hairstyle frequently over the years, there was no chance Argentina’s Fernando Redondo would think of getting a trim.

So much so that he outright refused to get a haircut when ordered to by Argentina manager Daniel Passarella during the 1998 World Cup.

Fernando Redondo (pictured in 1994) refused to get a haircut during the 1998 World Cup

‘He had particular ideas about discipline and wanted me to have my hair cut’, said Redondo. ‘I didn’t see what that had to do with playing football so I said no.’

Redondo was dropped for his protest and would make one more appearance for the national side under a different manager.

Calf injury

Injuring your calf is one thing, but injury by calf is extremely rare.

Queen of the South back-up goalkeeper Sam Henderson was involved in the latter as he was tackled by a cow while on his father’s farm two years ago. 

Third-choice keeper at the time, Henderson was due to be on the bench for the Scottish side in a game against Dunfermline after their first-choice Alan Martin picked up an injury. 

Queen of the South keeper Sam Henderson was injured after being hit by a runaway cow

Then-assistant manager Dougie Anderson told The Scottish Sun in 2018: ‘Sam has missed training this week after being struck. It could have been worse as the cow ran at him for a second time but he managed to get out of the way.

‘He has a sore shoulder so he is getting closely monitored and a lot of treatment as we do not want to go into the game without a goalkeeper on the bench.’

Too much time on the tanning bed for Mexes

In November 2013, AC Milan defender Philippe Mexes was forced to pull out of a league game against Genoa with an eye injury. 

He complained that he was feeling a slight pain in his left eye which led doctors to diagnose him with a condition called central serous retinopathy.

At the time, the injury didn’t raise many eyebrows until it transpired that the cause of central serous retinopathy is from exposure to ultraviolet lights – the ones you would usually find on tanning beds.

That’s right – the now-retired centre back picked up the injury from apparently topping up his tan too much. 

Philippe Mexes suffered an eye injury in 2013 after spending too much time on the sun-beds

Vassell takes a DRILL to the toe

While most injuries are part and parcel of the game, Darius Vassell’s most notable injury was certainly self-inflicted.

The former England and Aston Villa striker was suffering from a blood blister under his big toenail back in 2002, which led him to make the cringe-inducing decision of using a drill on his toe in an attempt to drain it.

The idea of using a power tool to perform surgery on yourself is terrifying enough, but luckily for Vassell, it appeared to do no serious long-term damage and only kept him out of action for three matches.

The case is made even more bizarre when you consider the amount of fully qualified doctors Villa would have had employed at the time to advise on a situation like this.

Ex-Aston Villa striker Darius Vassell tried to pop a blister under his toenail with a drill

Batty gets taken out by a tricycle

Known for being an unforgiving and hard-hitting midfielder in his time, David Batty was not a man to shirk a challenge.

It’s no surprise the amount of injuries he picked up during his playing days but a play-time accident involving his two-year-old daughter kept him on the sidelines for several weeks.

Having sustained knee ligament damage, Batty had to take even more time out when his toddler ran over his ankle with a tricycle leaving the coaching staff baffled at the news.

Hard-hitting David Batty was kept out after his daughter ran over his ankle with a tricycle

Grooming routine keeps Asensio out of action

Marco Asensio probably deserves a medal for ‘worst excuse to miss a football game’ with this reason.

The Real Madrid attacker had to sit out Real Madrid’s Champions League group stage game against APOEL in 2017 because his grooming routine went wrong.

Yep. To quote reports in Spain, Asensio had ‘an infection in a pimple caused by epilating the hairs on his legs’, meaning he couldn’t play because of a sore spot which came as a result of shaving his legs.

And who said footballers aren’t pampered?  

Marco Asensio missed a Champions League game in 2017 as a result of an infected pimple

Hard-man Vinnie Jones ‘glorifies violence’

Since retiring from football, known hard-man Vinnie Jones has gone on to create a brilliant acting career for himself in Hollywood, having starred in films like Snatch, Mean Machine and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

However, back in November 1992, while playing for Wimbledon, his voice-over acting debut resulted in him being handed a six-month ban and a £20,000 fine for commentating on a video of footballers kicking lumps out of each other – essentially promoting violence.

The video, titled ‘Soccer’s Hard Men’, featured the likes of Tommy Smith, Norman Hunter, Chopper Harris and Peter Storey getting stuck in, while Jones provided colourful and enthusiastic commentary over the top. 

The FA caught wind of it and declared that the video ‘glorified violence and foul play’ and charged Jones with bringing the game into disrepute, leaving him to miss a number of games as a result. 

Vinnie Jones was given a suspended ban and a £20,000 fine for ‘glorifying violence’ in 1992

Rene Higuita’s dark past

Everyone remembers Rene Higuita for his wonderful scorpion-kick save against England, which will take its rightful place in every football highlight-reel for years to come.

But some people may not know that the goalkeeper has a darker past. 

In 1993, the Colombian goalkeeper was due to feature for his country but failed to take to the field.

His absence was due to the fact that he had been arrested and sentenced to seven months in jail for assisting with a kidnapping.

The keeper reportedly pocketed $64,000 for lending a helping hand, which saw the Colombian justice system throw him into jail. His prison sentence saw him miss out on the 1994 World Cup due to his lack of fitness.

‘I’m a footballer, I didn’t know anything about kidnapping laws,’ he said. 

Colombia goalkeeper Rene Higuita was jailed in 1993 for assisting in a kidnapping




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