Strangest Reasons For Missing Matches

Chelsea’s pre-season plans have been hit with the news that Mohamed Salah may be recalled to Egypt to carry out mandatory military service. It won’t be the first time the army’s gotten in the way of football, with conscription a common occurrence in the likes of Italy up until recently – with Fabio Cannavaro and Alessandro del Piero amongst the conscripts doing their duty for their country.

More recently, Finnish midfielder Teemu Tainio had to return from a trial at Manchester United after his father forced him home to carry out national service. We have a look at some other strange reasons for players missing games.

Estonia National Team
Scotland’s misgivings about the standard of the floodlights in Tallinn’s Kadriorg stadium led to one of the most farcical incidents in international football. Aggrieved at the Scottish concerns, Estonia withdrew from the World Cup qualifier, leaving Craig Brown’s side to kick-off with no Estonians on the pitch. The referee immediately blew his whistle and Scotland expected a default win. However, FIFA ordered a replay, which also ended goalless.

George Eastham
The Newcastle United player refused to play for the club in the early 1960s as he was upset at the house and second job that they had provided for him. As well as patrolling midfield for The Toon, Eastham was obliged to spend his days selling cork around the North East.

His eight-month strike, which ended when he moved to Arsenal, paved the way for a reform of the English transfer system.

Lee Hughes
Lee Hughes has had a colourful life off the pitch, to put it mildly. He once missed the start of Notts County’s season after suffering a slight case of the bends from scuba diving on his honeymoon.

The striker was ruled out for County as he underwent a sinus operation and spent some time in a decompression chamber to overcome the illness. It was a rare case in English football of a player being forced to miss games after diving.

Andy O’Brien
It is a rare occurrence for Andy O’Brien, with 12 games in over 450 career performances, to strike but that’s exactly what he did at Leeds United. The Vancouver Whitecaps defender got fed up at becoming a target for the Leeds boo boys and vowed never to play for the club again.

However, it was subsequently revealed that the former Irish international was suffering from depression at the time. He did return to the side, briefly, before moving to Canada the following season.

Pierre van Hooijdonk
The Dutch striker helped fire Nottingham Forest back into the Premier League for the 1998/99 season but refused to play for the first few months of the campaign. Van Hooijdonk was irate at the board’s decision to sell strike partner Kevin Campbell and their lack of activity in the transfer market, and only returned to the side in November.

He did score six times that term but his team-mates refused to celebrate with him and he became a pariah with fans. Forest were duly relegated and the player sold to Vitesse Arnhem.