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Darwin Nunez Suffered A Debilitating Knee Injury At 17-Years-Old Which Made Him Want To Quit Football

Daniel Marland

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Darwin Nunez Suffered A Debilitating Knee Injury At 17-Years-Old Which Made Him Want To Quit Football

Featured Image Credit: Alamy & @Rlima5dt/Twitter

Darwin Nunez nearly walked away from football after suffering a knee injury which left him 'in tears' after every training session at the age of 17.

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The Uruguay striker impressed in his homeland with Penarol and academy director Fernando Curutchet wanted him in the first team as soon as possible.

Penarol's under 23-team were challenging for the title and Nunez asked to stay for the run-in, something Curutchet agreed to.

Nunez would go on to land awkwardly after challenging for a header against Sud America and he tore his ACL in the process.

He still has a visible scar on his knee from the surgery and Curutchet detailed the incident in an interview with The Athletic.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

Nunez was mature beyond his years and despite being in a world of pain, he offered words of encouragement to a man almost 40 years his senior.

"I got a lump in my throat when I found out what had happened," Curutchet said. "Apparently the pitch was in a poor state. It was such a bad injury at what should have been his big moment.

"He had such a mature attitude. He told me, 'Don’t worry. Don’t feel guilty. It’s just life. I will recover and keep moving forward. It’s just one of those things I have to get past'."

Nunez would eventually make a return to full training but that was an obstacle in itself.

Leonardo Ramos, who was manager of Penarol in 2017, added: "He’d end every training session in tears.

Nunez had knee issues during his time with Benfica too. (Credit: Transfermarkt)
Nunez had knee issues during his time with Benfica too. (Credit: Transfermarkt)

"At one stage I took him aside and asked him how he was. He told me he wanted to quit football and return to Artigas [his hometown in Uruguay].

"He said he could not take the pain. He said that he loved playing but that he could not give 100 per cent because of his knee. It was a lot to cope with. He was clearly feeling really low."

Nunez spent a year and a half on the sidelines in total and it means he missed a huge chunk of playing time in his teens.

What stopped him from walking away? A heart to heart with Ramos.

He added: "We had a father-son chat. When you speak to a player in that way, sometimes you are gentle and other times you need to be firm.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

"I told him to remember his dreams. In that moment, I wanted to reawaken the footballer he had inside him."

It was exactly what Nunez needed. He moved to Spanish minnows Almeria in 2019 and within a year had been snapped up by Benfica.

Nunez impressed in the Champions League and caught the eye of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who brought him to Anfield in the summer transfer window.

Now 23, he scored in the Community Shield on Saturday and looks to be the new main man at Anfield. It's worth remembering the journey he went on to get here.

Topics: Darwin Nunez, Liverpool, Premier League, Uruguay

Daniel Marland
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