For a long period of time, there has been a question of how important the mental aspect of the game is in football. Some players seem destined for success no matter what physical boundaries oppose them, their desire to win is a greater power than anything that comes their way.
A way in which this can be viewed throughout history is through significant injuries that players have suffered on the pitch that some players have opted to play through.
At times this was maybe due to adrenaline or maybe their battle scars inspire them to ensure they achieved victory, rather than use them as an excuse for their failure.
We have even seen one of the greatest players of all time Cristiano Ronaldo limp out of the UEFA European Championships final in France in 2016.
The fact a man with one of the greatest mentalities in football in the opinion of many was prevented from leading his team due to injury demonstrates how much of a rarity and a phenomenon such an event is.
But who were some of the greatest examples of players in the past pushing beyond the pain barrier to stay on the pitch and continue to battle for their team? Is mental power stronger than physical ability?
For the United States legend Brian McBride, pushing on beyond physical barriers was not a one-time thing for former Columbus Crew striker.
The Crew enjoyed some of the highest points of their existence while McBride played for the club, and that could certainly have benefited from a prime McBride in current times.
They have become a mid-table club in the Major League Soccer since winning the MLS Cup back in 2020, struggling to compete for honours with some of the higher-funded teams.
They are certainly improving. however, with the likes of Milos Degenek featuring in the roster who reached the knockouts of the FIFA World Cup with Australia.
There are many Ohio betting apps that have been reviewed on gambling.com, which have filtered the best odds and offers for betting on the Crew next season, as they look to possibly return to the glory of just a few years in the past.
He suffered many broken bones while playing for the national team, which meant he had metal plates implanted into his face.
On one occasion he was injured badly when battling for the ball in the air with Latvian defender, Deniss Ivanovs, who was an absolute man-mountain of a defender.
McBride was down and momentarily had to take a break from the game, but upon returning he had an almost instant impact as he scored a header.
The bulge in his head certainly did not phase him, scoring goals was in his nature and injuries slight or severe never seemed to prevent him from performing at his best.
The more significant occasion that perhaps caught the eyes of the wider world was seen in the World Cup of 2006 when Daniele De Rossi collided with McBride in a tie with the Italians.
De Rossi’s elbow connected with McBride’s head, and he suffered a deep laceration to his main offensive weapon. But almost instantly he got back to his feet and carried on, almost as if the challenge had not occurred.
Those occasions epitomised the duration of McBride’s career, physical boundaries were minor to him; he wanted to play football and nothing would stop him in his quest to provide for his team on the field.
Cesc Fabregas was an absolute magician on the pitch, and while he may have not been the most physical footballer, he certainly had a strong mentality and let little get in the way of him playing the beautiful game.
In 2010, in the UEFA Champions League, Fabregas took a penalty against FC Barcelona and not just an average Catalan side but one of the greatest assembled club teams ever.
As he stepped up to take a penalty for Arsenal, there was little sign he had suffered a broken bone, but he dispatched with ease sending Victor Valdes the wrong way.
A scan following the game showed he had suffered a leg break, which perhaps was indicative of how focused on the game he was.
Perhaps the pain did not even cross his mind as he was locked into attempting to beat the great Barcelona side featuring the likes of Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Lionel Messi.
While some players like McBride seem to be unphased by injury no matter the occasion or severity, Fabregas was perhaps not aware of his broken leg due to the height of the occasion.
Adrenaline perhaps allowed him to score the penalty with no issues, as he knew how vital the goal was for his side. Fabregas’ bravery was likely caused by the body’s reaction to such a high-pressure situation but it still demonstrates that there are many more factors in performing on the pitch than physical ability.
Dietmar Hamann similarly to Fabregas suffered a leg break on the pitch that he was totally unaware of. But in his situation, the height of the occasion was on a totally different level to the Spaniards’.
It was extra time for the UCL final of 2005, which was when Hamann recalls suffering an injury and feeling pain, but he was focused solely on the task at hand.
Liverpool had turned over a three-goal deficit in the second half of the fixture and was fighting to be European champions for the fifth time, and the German was certainly not prepared to retire from battle. He stepped up to score the red’s first penalty in the shootout as they went on to claim victory in Istanbul.
It was not until a week later on national team duty that he was ordered to get a scan and he discovered he had suffered a leg break.
This occasion is perhaps indicative of Hamann’s character and his mental strength to continue day-to-day after the final unbothered by his unknown injury. But the argument could be made he was still on a high from being crowned a champion of Europe.
Either way, many footballers have shown they are capable of ignoring the pain barrier and sometimes it not even being a factor as they are focused solely on winning football games.
The ability to score goals with broken legs and to score headers with a bulging cut to the head, shows some players have the mentality to push themselves to the absolute physical limit – their mental drive to win overwhelms any physical challenges that come their way.