sport news PETER CROUCH: I knocked out a fellow pro... and it still leaves me cold

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Sportsmail columnist Peter Crouch

Sportsmail columnist Peter Crouch

It was 10 minutes into a run-of-the-mill, end of season game when it happened. Stoke were playing West Ham and a cross had just been whipped into the penalty area.

I always backed myself to get the perfect timing when attempting a bicycle kick but this particular day, in May 2013, it went horribly wrong. Rather than connecting with the ball, I connected with Matt Taylor and caught him flush in the face.

Matt was out cold before he landed on the ground. He lay there for a couple of seconds before the physios arrived on the scene but, for a few seconds that seemed like an eternity, he never gave a flicker of coming around. 

It was one of the scariest incidents I experienced on a pitch.

Fortunately, Matt regained consciousness. Other concussion, a cut to his face and a black eye, he was fine and I was able to see him in the dressing room afterwards but the worry that I had inflicted serious damage to a fellow professional stayed with me all through the game.

Watching the dreadful event at Goodison Park last week, when Andre Gomes suffered a season-ending injury, it made me think of some the incidents in which I have been involved and I can understand exactly how Son Heung-min would have felt.

Panic quickly spread as Matt Taylor lay motionless on the pitch, knocked out cold from the hit

Panic quickly spread as Matt Taylor lay motionless on the pitch, knocked out cold from the hit

We all know Son was upset. He reacted with class when scoring for Tottenham in midweek and everybody knows he did not go out to shatter Gomes’s ankle. 

Let’s be honest, though: the man who deserves most sympathy is the one who went through an operation and is now crutches.

You cannot underestimate the effect an incident of that nature will have on a squad and it will be interesting to see how Everton react this weekend, when they face Southampton at St Mary’s. Episodes such as that are not easily cleared from the mind.

The worst incident I ever saw happened in a training session. It was May 2016, at Stoke’s Clayton Woods base. 

A tackle from our defender, Dionatan Teixeira, shattered Stephen Ireland’s leg; I will not go into the details other than to say Phil Bardsley, who was closest to it, was almost in tears.

Son Heung-min was late into the challenge and caused Andre Gomes to go to ground at speed

Son Heung-min was late into the challenge and caused Andre Gomes to go to ground at speed

Distress was immediately spread on the faces of both players after the incident turned serious

Distress was immediately spread on the faces of both players after the incident turned serious

Haunting images showed Gomes screaming in pain, with his right foot set at a disturbing angle

Haunting images showed Gomes screaming in pain, with his right foot set at a disturbing angle

Dionatan ended up requiring counselling. We consoled him in the same way Son was consoled by his own players – and Everton’s – last Sunday. 

No right-minded footballer would ever go out of their way to inflict such pain and that’s why Seamus Coleman went into see Son after the game.

The impact for Stephen, however, was huge. He was never the same player after that and we can only hope that the implications for Gomes are not as severe. It was encouraging, then, to hear Marco Silva, Everton’s head coach, raise the prospect of him playing again this season.

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