Jonathan Woodgate could be forced to retire at the age of 30 as injury continues to blight his career.
Woodgate suffered a groin injury last November and despite travelling to both Australia and America in a bid to solve the issue, he remains some way away from returning to the Spurs first team. The centre-back is about to have surgery in what Harry Redknapp has described as the player’s “last chance” of recovery.
With Woodgate making only three appearances since the beginning of last season, it seems certain he won’t be included in Redknapp’s 25 man squad list for the first half of this season. The Spurs manager has already been planning for a season without Woodgate, signing William Gallas recently. With Ledley King suffering from chronic knee problems, Redknapp was desperate to bring in more cover to compete with Michael Dawson, Sebastian Bassong and Younes Kaboul. The rumour mill suggests there could be more signings before the close of the transfer window.
Before his latest major injury, Woodgate had enjoyed two seasons which were relatively trouble free, first with Middlesbrough then Spurs. However, since leaving his first club, Leeds, the centre-back’s career has been plagued by injury which has robbed England of one of the most naturally gifted centre backs around.
Spanish giants Real Madrid thought highly enough of the defender to spend £13.5 million on him when they took him to Spain from Newcastle. His spell with Madrid didn’t start off well – on his debut he scored an own goal and was then sent off. He never really recovered from that start and suffered various injuries, making only nine appearances overall. Woodgate returned to his home town club Middlesbrough, initially on loan then permanently.
He was impressive in his two years for Boro, convincing Spurs to spend £7 million on him. Woodgate has made fewer than 50 appearances for Spurs since the move and it’s clear to see why Redknapp is losing patience with him. Though as the highlight of his Spurs’ career came when Woodgate scored the winning goal against Chelsea in extra time of the 2008 League Cup final, some would say that the £7m was well spent.
It would be a real shame for football if Woodgate is forced to retire. Despite his early career controversies, he became one of the league’s most skilful and passionate centre-backs who would have surely added more international caps to the eight he achieved earlier in his career. The White Hart Lane faithful will be hoping they see Woodgate in a Spurs shirt once again, but right now the signs do not look good.
Though it would be something of a personal tragedy for Woodgate were he to be forced to retire, it might actually be best thing for Spurs and allow us to plan for the future. It’s a harsh statement, but football is a harsh world.