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Tuesday, 6 November, 2001, 13:21 GMT
Anderton hands in his sicknote
Darren Anderton hopes his injury problems are behind him
Anderton hopes his injury problems are behind him
By BBC Sport Online's John May

If Darren Anderton was a racehorse, he would have been put out to grass by now.

But, like a true thoroughbred, he is again about to make a late run and come through on the rails to claim a place in an England squad for a major championship.

His selection for Sven-Goran Eriksson's England squad to face Sweden on Saturday comes a year after the last of his 29 caps as a substitute against Italy

Anderton's injury list has become the stuff of football legend, a range of ailments and injuries that would make a medical almanac.


People have had a go about my injuries
Darren Anderton

But despite missing the 2000 European Championships, the 29-year-old has a knack of regaining his fitness just in time for major tournaments.

As he pursues his aim of playing in a second World Cup finals, there are signs Anderton is getting fed up at the reputation his injuries have given him, along with the nickname 'Sicknote'.

"People have had a go about my injuries but not too many have slaughtered me about the way I play," said Anderton.

Since his debut as a Portsmouth substitute against Cardiff in October 1990, Anderton has been recognised as a special talent.

Reputation

His reputation during his formative years at Pompey was as a winger with a good turn of pace and an ability to get in a telling cross from any angle.

He also possessed boundless energy and stamina, a legacy from the days when he was a top schoolboy cross-country runner.

England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson
England coach Eriksson has no doubts over Anderton's ability

He almost decided to take that path into sport after being overlooked by home-town club Southampton.

Anderton's role in Pompey's epic run to the 1992 FA Cup semi-final prompted then Spurs boss Terry Venables to pay out 1.75 for him.

When Venables left White Hart Lane to take up the England manager's position he brought Anderton into the full international fold, with a debut against Denmark in March 1994.

But injury dogged Anderton relentlessly.

He recovered from a seven-month absence with a groin injury to play a pivotal role in the England's Euro 96 campaign.

But a catalogue of injuries provided Anderton with a three-season nightmare, during which he made just 39 Premiership appearances between 1995-98.

Along the way in proving his fitness to Glenn Hoddle to win a place in England's France 98 World Cup squad, Anderton re-invented himself.

He moved inside from his wide berth at Spurs to prove his versatility as a pivotal central midfield player.


Highs and lows, I've had plenty of both
Darren Anderton

A recurring Achilles tendon injury plagued him last season, prompting a summer trip to America.

The injury was treated by pricking it to make it bleed and help the healing process, followed by a month with his foot encased in a protective shoe.

"I was low, definitely," he said.

"At that time all I was thinking about was playing football again, let alone playing for England.

"That's all part of football I'm afraid - highs and lows and I've had plenty of both."

Elaborate

He has started every game for Spurs this season, each of which is preceded by an elaborate warm-up to prevent any further strains or pulls.

"I don't take anything for granted but it's nice when I look back to the summer. It's nice to be rewarded.

"Playing for England is something I've enjoyed and I feel lucky to be back."

Sicknote's sick list

  • November 1992: Hernia operation after joining Spurs. Out six weeks.
  • October 1994: Torn groin muscle, out five weeks.
  • August 1995: Hernia operation. misses two weeks
  • October 1995: Groin injury, out eight months.
  • June 1996: Groin surgery following Euro 96.
  • September 1996: Groin injury, five weeks out.
  • May 1997: Groin operation, plays 16 games all season.
  • July 1997: Pre-season hamstring injury, misses first four months of season.
  • December 1997: Knee injury, out four weeks.
  • February 1998: Groin surgery, out three months.
  • September 1999: Achilles surgery, out three months.
  • May 2000: Misses Euro 2000 to recover from Achilles injury.
  • February 2001: Achilles injury, out three months.
  • See also:

    05 Nov 01 |  World Cup 2002
    Phillips earns England recall
    05 Nov 01 |  World Cup 2002
    Eriksson looks ahead
    05 Nov 01 |  World Cup 2002
    Sweden honours Eriksson
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