Former Liverpool midfielder Mohamed Sissoko has opened up on the horrendous eye injury he suffered playing in the Champions League Round of 16 against Benfica during his first season with the Reds.
Medical staff and doctors were concerned that the French-born Mali international might never recover sight in his right eye after he was accidentally kicked by midfielder Beto in February 2006.
But Sissoko — part of what was famously dubbed “the best midfield in the world” by the Anfield faithful, alongside Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso — made a miraculous recovery and returned to action a month later before being part of the team that lifted the FA Cup at the end of that season.
On the pitch he played for the likes of Valencia, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain as well as Liverpool but, speaking to Jay Pearson and Mick Moran on The Kopite Podcast, Sissoko has stated his belief that his career could have hit even greater heights had he not suffered that eye injury.
He said: “This time, I remember it all the time. Without this injury, I could do more than what I did. This injury stopped me a lot — my vision was not the same.
“For me, when I received [the injury], I said for me it’s finished, football is finished, because I didn’t see anything. After, when I went to the hospital, the doctor told me also ‘football is finished for you’.
“When you’re in a bed and a doctor tells you this — it’s a shock.”
But despite the less-than-promising prognosis, Sissoko refused to believe it was the end of his career — a prediction which came true as, exactly a month after that game against Benfica, he donned a pair of goggles and returned to the pitch for the 7-0 hammering of Birmingham City in the FA Cup.
“I believe in God and I said ‘no, it’s not possible’. I started football, it was my dream, it’s impossible that I stop like this. So I fought and fought until I came back.
“The first time I came back to play, it was like when I started to play football when I was young.
“I did a lot of work, I went to a lot of doctors in the States, France, everywhere. They told me [my eye] was not the same, but I could come back to play football with sunglasses — like Edgar Davids!
“After I came back, I was playing football again and I was very, very happy.”