Does a major knee injury definitely sideline an elite soccer player?

Am J Sports Med. 1990 Jan-Feb;18(1):101-5. doi: 10.1177/036354659001800118.


Injuries occurring in three Swedish elite soccer teams were analyzed during 1 year. A total of 49 of 64 players (75%) sustained 85 injuries. The incidence of injury during games was 13 injuries per 1000 hours, while the incidence during training was 3 injuries per 1000 hours. Twenty percent of the injuries required hospital facilities. The majority of the traumatic injuries (93%) were to the lower extremities, with one third of the total injuries occurring in the knee. Overuse injuries accounted for 35% of all injuries and occurred mainly during preseason training and at the end of each season. Conversely, the majority of traumatic injuries occurred during games, equally distributed between the first and second halves with a predominance toward the end of each half. The position of the player within the team did not influence injury rate. The referee considered 28% of the traumatic injuries to be caused by violation of existing rules. Thirty-four percent of the injuries were major, causing more than 1 month of absence from training and/or games. Eleven knee injuries required surgical intervention revealing seven ruptured ACLs, of which three were chronic. At followup, 9 to 18.5 months after injury, 4 of 12 players with major knee injuries had returned to play at the elite level. The others had either been transferred to lower divisions or were still in rehabilitation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Knee Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Knee Injuries* / etiology
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Soccer / injuries*
  • Sweden / epidemiology