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Stephen Ireland's Horror Injury Included Some Homer Simpson-esque Misfortune

By Arthur James O'Dea
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It could be read as a measure of Mark Hughes's admiration for him, or the last-ditch efforts of a manager swimming against the tide.

Either way, when the under-pressure Stoke City boss convinced the board to extend the expiring contract of Stephen Ireland last month, it brought the long-suffering Ireland back into the minds of Irish football fans.

Just over 10 years since the highly touted midfield player made his last appearance in an Ireland jersey, recurring injury issues have not stopped the 31-year old racking up an impressive 300 career appearances with Premier League clubs.

On the brink of a return to the Stoke City side, 609 days since his last appearance, Ireland spoke to The Telegraph 

Finding his feet in a Stoke team that was relatively thriving under Hughes at the time, an innocuous fifty-fifty challenge in training sent Ireland's career into a spiral:

I remember what happened as clear as day. It was a very relaxed session and in the last 15 seconds I was going for the tackle and nudged the ball off line and Dionatan Teixeira judged it wrong.

He kicked through with his heel on my shinbone. I heard it snap and knew instantly it was broken. I was hopping on my right leg and looked down at my left leg - the ankle and foot was like jelly, swinging.


An incident that drove Ireland's teammate Phil Bardsley to "grab his head with both hands and scream "Oh my God!" dead loud, even Ireland seems to appreciate some of the humour that can be found in what happened next.

Waiting for an agonisingly delayed ambulance, a heavy-handed paramedic ended up only adding to Ireland's pretty serious concerns:

The paramedic ripped me so hard out of the ambulance that I bit down on my gas and air and one of my front teeth fell out.

I saw it flying out of my mouth. ... I was escorted to a bed in hospital and asking for them to please find my tooth. He came back with a stone ... I went mad.

Considering that Ireland was due to get married a fortnight later, it doesn't take much of a stretch to figure out just how inopportune this whole incident was.

Eventually reacquainted with his tooth, it has been an incredibly long road to recovery for the Cork man. As a struggling Stoke face Coventry City in the third-round of the FA Cup this weekend, he will be hopeful that his lengthy rehabilitation may allow him have a say in helping Hughes repay the faith that the Welsh manager placed in him.


Determined to locate the humour in the bleak incompetence of Ireland's carers, your mind couldn't but travel back to that incredible Simpsons moment when Homer jumped the Springfield gorge. Enjoy!

[Watch Video]

See Also: Quiz: How Well Do You Remember Famous FA Cup 3rd Round Shocks?

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