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Unusual cures for injured football players?

Anyone who is interested in football will this week have become aware of the contribution a placenta will be making in Arsenal’s bid to win the Premier League. John Dykes reports.

india Updated: Nov 20, 2009 23:55 IST
John Dykes

Anyone who is interested in football will this week have become aware of the contribution a placenta will be making in Arsenal’s bid to win the Premier League.

Under the headline “Van Persie’s a Placenta Forward!” The Daily Mirror picked on Robin van Persie’s proposed visit to a Serbian housewife who offers a novel treatment.

Marian Kovacevic is said to rub fluid from a cow or horse’s placenta on the affected area. The Dutchman was told about her by teammate Orlando Engelaar, who recounted the tale of a former Feyenoord teammate, Danko Lazovic.

Lazovic is said to have more than halved his recovery time from a hamstring injury while an Ajax striker, Marko Pantelic claims to have been in action eight days after suffering a thigh injury.

Van Persie said, “I am going to give it a try. It can’t do any harm and if it helps, it helps. I’ve been in contact with Arsenal’s chief physio about it. The club has allowed me to have this treatment done.”

One can understand Arsenal’s desire to have him back soon. The Dutchman has scored eight times this season and has been a top goalscorer. If he is sidelined, he would miss matches against Chelsea, Liverpool and Aston Villa, as well as the “revenge” League Cup encounter with Emmanuel Adebayor and Manchester City.

But placenta? Really?

Doctors have been quick to comment on this alternative therapy as applied to torn ankle ligaments. Most have concluded that Kovacevic’s “results” owe more to the “placebo effect”.

Clubs and nations invest in players. Several South American clubs prescribe Viagra when playing matches more than 3,500 metres above sea level. It is designed to improve blood flow.

One suspects BPL clubs will not be jumping on that bandwagon soon. When all is said and done, there is science and then there is sheer lunacy.

(Catch John Dykes on ESPN’s Football Focus every Tuesday and First Edition on Friday)