Hargreaves: My injury years were humbling
In the latest episode of the UTD Podcast, 2008 Champions League winner Owen Hargreaves opens up about his injury struggles and the lengths he would go to in order to keep playing football.
The former England international signed for Manchester United in 2007 and enjoyed a successful debut season at the club before a series of injury worries led to the energetic midfielder spending a lot of time on the treatment table.
“I had tendonitis when I first came over,” he explained. "The problem is, I always just played through everything.
“[Tendonitis] was something you can play through, and I managed that the whole season at United. I took painkillers to play because I wanted to play every game.
“At the end of the season, [I had] some treatment [and] I thought I was going to be fit for the start of pre-season. But I pretty much never played again.”
Hargreaves' intention was always to return to fitness and rediscover the form that saw him shine for his country in the 2006 World Cup. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.
“I tried to come back but I was never the same,” he said. “I had so much pain and then in the end I had to have knee surgery on both sides.
“My mentality was always ‘I’ll get back’, but I never really did. I just wanted to keep pushing and keep pushing to get back. I started to get muscle injuries because I was compensating for the pain in my knee.
“It was super humbling in a way, because up to [the age of] 27, I probably had the best seven years you could probably have ever had. And then, the last ones were brutally humbling.”
Hargreaves appeared for United only five times more between 2008 and 2010 and departed the club in the summer of 2011.
“It was hard because I just felt like that team was so great,” he said. “I remember watching the Champions League final in Rome against Barca (2009) and then in London (2011), and just wishing I could have been able to help.
“I never got back to that [level of fitness], I never got back to it. So, it was one good year: one really good year. It just is a shame it couldn’t have been more.”