• David Silva confirms his retirement from professional football

One heard a crack, another a clac and another started screaming as if it were a pig they were killing. After these events, the well. Operations, physios and many tears. Calvaries that did not always end well. Last season, 13 players suffered a cruciate break in LaLiga; David Silva, less than a month ago. An evil that is in all sports. Such are the knees of hell.

Cesar Jimenez

His was the most famous injury and not for the damage but for the cause. "As it was Figo and the Bernabeu, a chicken was mounted, but I just wanted to go back." César Jiménez (Ávila, 1977), Real Madrid youth center and former Zaragoza player, remembers that fateful January 16, 2005, when the Portuguese shatters his knee from a stomping. "I don't have it stuck in my head or feel a grudge, what bothered me is that I loved being in a locker room, playing..."

Jimenez leaves the phrase in the air before recalling the whole ordeal of "two and a half years of injuries." How he struggled to recover from a cruciate and meniscus tear that left him "the knee with play", that is, unstable. "The knee cries in trauma. All trauma when there is support prejudges seriousness, "explains Dr. Pedro Guillén, the greatest specialist in knee injuries and pioneer in the operations of this joint through arthroscopy.

Eight months after that, after many ups and downs, while training with the youth of the Maño team, César heard "clac". "Several players heard it from afar," Jimenez says of his second break, this time, only after a turn. "The crusader is usually a fortuitous self-injury," says Guillén.

"More than the operation, the worst thing is not playing again. The months you spend in solitude," reveals the former footballer. Hard moments that David Llopis, sports psychologist defines as "great emotional impact". "The goal is to help manage and understand the moment and fill the void that sports practice will leave behind," explains Llopis.

César stuck to his physio, Míchel Román, hoping to compete again. "I spent more time with him than with my family," she says. But the knee wasn't going. The medical services confirm the worst of the news, no matter how much he operates, he will not be able to play again. Then, the decision came. "It's hard when you consider quitting, but then announcing it... In front of your teammates, the physio crying... ugh," Jimenez explains. And Alejandro Lanchas, former physiotherapist of Leganés and owner of the 180grados Clinic, understands those tears perfectly: "We have to have that confidence with the player, we see him more than his wife".

Then the lights went out, the boots hung up and football was over. "When I don't have to train anymore, when you lose the routine... is that you consider leaving it in your thirties but in your twenties..." There are many half-finished phrases in Jimenez's mouth, as was his career. "When the withdrawal is due to an injury, it is more shocking since it is not the established or expected moment, its impact is much greater," dissects the sports psychologist.

Almost 20 years later, football is still in the head and in the work of the former footballer from Avila. "I have not touched a ball again," adds the current director of the School of Sports Coaches of Ávila. "I loved, lived and enjoyed football a lot."

Pablo Orbaiz

Pablo Orbaiz, after being injured in a match against Real Sociedad.

"I jumped on a ball I lost track of where the ground was, when I fell I felt as if a board was broken." Former footballer Pablo Orbaiz (Pamplona, 1979) will never forget the sound and feeling he had in his first cruciate break on January 4, 2003 in a match between Athletic Bilbao and Racing de Santander. "It's like you turn on a radiator and notice the ligament burn," he adds. An injury that comes because he had not finished taking the form after a broken ankle on the first day of the league.

First, the pain, going down to the locker room, the fear. Then, calmer, the Athletic doctor and a club official, Fernando Astorqui, tell him that he may have broken crusaders in his left knee. "It is a moment of emotional impact in which despair, anger, insecurity or fear of not being able to compete again can appear," says David Llopis.

But the recovery of the first knee is going quite well, despite the fact that the player looks different from his teammates. "I told the doctor: 'Sabino, I look slow compared to my teammates'" and the doctor, with whom he had a lot of confidence, replied sarcastically: "Pablo, the donkey, no matter how much he trains, will never be a horse."

It took Orbaiz a year to forget the injury. "The mind usually acts as a limiter," explains Alejandro Lanchas. And, when the Navarrese half was better, the Bernabéu arrived in 2006. Orbaiz notices a small puncture in the first part in the right knee, but begins the second and sees, in a turn, "how the knee goes to one place and the body to another". This time there was no pain, just the feeling of "the breaking of a cigarette paper." This time the right knee.

"When you break a crusader you are unbalanced and that's why, many times, you end up breaking the other. It is something both physical and mental because you try to protect the previous injury, "details the former Leganés physiotherapist. New operation and everything goes well until an infection truncates recovery. "I had a very bad time, my character changed," explains Orbaiz, who had to undergo two more operations. "It is essential to prepare family members to be a help, not a source of stress," says the sports psychologist.

But Pablo Orbaiz returned and, as he says, "I was able to develop my career." Osasuna, Athletic, Olympiakos and Rubin Kazan. A career in which he never "felt singled out by injuries." Orbaiz also had several ankle operations so he believes that "he tended to joint injuries" since "he barely remembers any muscular ones." "They always say that athletes, after an injury, come back stronger, but there are some who have glass joints like Asenjo," explains Lanchas.

Ivette Mussons

Ivet Mussons in a match with the national team.

If it is already difficult to survive in Spain of handball and, especially if you are a woman, if you suffer three cross operations the thing is even more complicated. "A footballer has everything at his disposal because he is paid, in my case I had to pay for it with the physiotherapist of Elche," explains the handball player and international with Spain, Ivette Mussons.

The first time Ivet broke was in 2015, with his team Elche Mustang in a Copa de la Reina match, he was 20 years old. "It was a girl!" she exclaims and remembers the intense pain, "I didn't even know where my leg was." "When a crusader breaks, you have to operate immediately because otherwise it is the beginning of the end," says Dr. Guillén. And the truth is that everything went well in that first operation and in the recovery of the athlete although, when she returned to play, "she was not as aggressive as before".

Two years later, a new blow. Ivet stood on the podium on crutches after winning the Mediterranean Games with the national team. She had broken the dreaded triad days before against Italy. "I break in a jump and when I fall I start screaming like when they kill a pig," describes the athlete.

This time, the recovery is not going so well. "A good operation goes 100% with a good recovery. If it is crooked, the recovery is twisted, "says the physiotherapist of the 180 degrees Center. And Ivet had doubts about whether he could continue, especially when he saw that he could not "even climb the rung of a ladder."

"When recovery does not go well it has an impact on a psychological level and when the athlete, for whatever reason, is not well emotionally, it influences his body," explains David Llopis. But Aitor Soler, the recuperator of Elche CF, had another idea so he had to work as a psychologist and physio with Ivet. She triumphed in both facets and, shortly before the pandemic, the Catalan returned to the parquet in tears, "I'm back".

Recently, despite his game now being "more tactical and less explosive", Ivet has re-injured his knee. "I think if it's worth continuing to play and that it means I won't be able to do certain things in a few years," reflects the athlete. "When injuries are repeated in the final stretch of your sports life, withdrawal, although you do not want it, is the relief at the end of a complicated stage," explains the sports psychologist. And she, of course, sees her close.


It costs a lot to be withdrawn than not to retreat. It costs a lot to live a race between the pitch and a stretcher, but if there are people who can carry it, it is the athletes. "They are characterized by their ability to overcome challenges, adversities and by knowing how to adapt, that is why they usually have more psychological resources to face adversity," says David Llopis.

  • football
  • Real Madrid

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