It is impressive enough to help your side dictate their way to a World Cup final against an excellent Germany side.
To do it after cracking your knee open with such force that the bathroom looked like ‘a scene from psycho’ is on another level entirely.
According to reports in Diario AS, that is exactly what Xabi Alonso did for Spain in 2010.
Xabi Alonso was forced to play the 2010 World Cup semi final with a heavily bandaged knee
While finishing his usual pre-match shower routine at the hotel, just ‘ten minutes’ before the team was due to leave for the match, Alonso’s shower door came loose from its hinge and smashed. As it fell, a shard of glass ‘severed his knee from side to side.’
‘Blood always shocks, but in this case what shocked me was seeing my knee with a cut from side to side from which the fat attached to the skin and the muscle tissue exposed,’ Alonso told Diario AS.
‘The only pain was internal. Goodbye to the semifinal and the World Cup final. I couldn’t believe it. The panic attack and anguish that I suffered surely prevented me from bursting into tears’
Neither Alonso’s teammates nor his manager knew about the injury he had sustained earlier
A shocked Alonso immediately called the team doctor, Dr. Juan Jose Garcia Cota.
‘When I enter the room, I find Xabi pale and shaken, almost in shock,’ Dr Cota told Diario As.
‘He had covered his knee with a towel to open the door for me. He was drenched in blood, the bathroom looked like the shower scene from Psycho. It was totally a crime scene.
‘He only managed to tell me imploringly: “Doctor, for God’s sake, do what you want but I have to play.” I still retain his words in my head.’
Dr Cota faced a dilemma as to whether or not he should allow Alonso to play, as he explained: ‘My head told me that it was impossible for Xabi to play and that he had to inform the coach. It was a fight between the head and the heart.
‘I had many doubts about whether to tell Vicente [Del Bosque] what had happened and I still have them. I don’t know if I did the right thing, but I went with the wounded one.
Spain went on to win their first ever World Cup against the Netherlands four days later
‘Let’s say that Xabi’s gaze won out over reason.’
Alonso ended up playing the game with a heavily bandaged knee. Neither Spain’s manager Del Bosque nor any of his teammates knew what had happened.
The Midfielder played 93 minutes before being subbed off, and played well enough to be named one of the ‘three most prolific passers in the World Cup’ in the next day’s Daily Mail.
Spain won the game 1-0 thanks to a Carles Puyol goal in the 72nd minute, and beat the Netherlands in the final four days later, where Alonso played another 87 minutes.