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"Like a crab..." - Former Man Utd star opens up on long-term effects of horrific injury

"Like a crab..." - Former Man Utd star opens up on long-term effects of horrific injury

A former Man Utd star has opened up on the effects of a serious injury.

Former Manchester United midfielder Alan Smith has opened up on the long-term effects of the horrific leg break and ankle dislocation he suffered in 2006.

The England international moved to Old Trafford in 2004 from bitter rivals Leeds - a transfer that caused plenty of controversy at the time.

Initially playing as a striker under Sir Alex Ferguson, Smith scored six Premier League goals in his first campaign with the club.

The following season, however, Ferguson decided to move him into midfield as a potential successor to Roy Keane, and he made 33 appearances in all competitions.

But in February 2006, Smith broke his leg and dislocated his ankle in an FA Cup clash with Liverpool. The midfielder attempted to block a fearsome John Arne Riise free-kick in the 89th minute of the match.

He was given oxygen and stretchered off the field, and would not return to the field for another seven months.

He left Old Trafford in the summer of 2008 to join Newcastle, before ending his career with spells at MK Dons and Notts County. Smith retired in 2018 after helping County to the League Two play-offs.

Now, in a new interview, Smith has revealed how he still feels the effects of the horror leg break today.

Former Man Utd midfielder Alan Smith opens up on leg break

On the 17th anniversary of the injury, Smith, now aged 42, spoke exclusively to about how, despite making a recovery, the leg break and ankle dislocation continues to give him problems.

He explained: "I'm like a crab - I can go sideways! Just going forwards is a real struggle for me. I can't really run anymore.

"I can join in with the kids and play small-sided games, but the actual straight-line running stuff is a no.

"When I finished playing football, I went to go and see the surgeon who did my ankle operation in 2006, and then when I went to see him in 2018 and he said, 'Just don't do any straight-line running, otherwise you'll struggle to end up doing anything'.

"So I try and limit the amount of straight-line running. I try to stay active doing anything else such as biking, swimming and all the good things not involving running.

"If you asked me to run a mile in a straight line on the concrete, I'd be struggling. I try to do all the slower sports now because I'm an old man!"

On whether he lost self-confidence after returning from the injury, he added: "I'd just lost so much mobility in my ankle that it made it impossible to get back to where I was because I was so restricted in my movement and my ability to run.

"It took away from my actual game itself, not my self-confidence, but just the physical ability to do that.

"That's when you get head round it, you have to try to adapt, and try to become a different type of player.

"That's sometimes a frustration because you know what you want to do, but your body just won't let you do it."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Manchester United, Premier League, Liverpool, Leeds United, Sir Alex Ferguson