Daniel Agger, Liverpool’s former centre-back who retired from football aged just 31 at the end of last season, has spoken about his fitness issues – which he said were exaggerated by his constant use of anti-inflammatory pills.
The Dane was brilliant at his best, especially under Rafa Benitez during the mid-noughties, but injuries got the better of him and his desperate attempts to get himself back on the field eventually meant he was pumping himself full of caffeine to averse the drowsy effects of the anti-inflammatory pills he was taking way above the doctors recommended dosage.
“I have taken too much anti-inflammatories in my career,” he told Jyllands-Posten. “I know that full well, and it sucks, but I did stop it [in the end]. I am not gaining anything personally from saying this but I can only hope that other athletes do. It could be that others take a pill or two less.”
In March this year, the Guardian report that Agger was so tired he fell asleep on the 15 minute bus to the ground, gave a nonsensical team-talk to his Brondby team-mates and looked completely out of sorts on the field – subbed after 29 minutes of the derby with FC Copenhagen.
A few months after this game, Agger announced his retirement, much to the relief of his wife.
“She has said it time and time again, that I should stop taking the medicine but it has gone in one ear and out the other,” Agger continued. “So [when I decided to stop playing] she was pleased too because of the pain I have had and because I have taken so much [medicine] just to keep standing.”
“The body could not cope with it,” he said. “The maximum dose should be taken for only three days. The body reacts to what is put into it and it was my body’s way of telling me that it had had enough. When the head can’t work it out, then the body had to do it.”
When Agger quit, he said his body and mind could no longer cope with the demands of playing professionally.
“I am in a place where I have had enough, mentally and physically,” the former defender explained.
“And it also means something to me that I feel that I can still play at a good standard. The offers I have received [to carry on] say that too. And I don’t want to embark on a downward spiral. I want to quit somewhere near the top. I have always said that that was important for me and therefore I stop now.”
Sadly, the Guardian report that Agger is now in constant pain and towards the end of last season was not in full control of his body on the pitch. Since 2008, Agger’s back problems have worsened and his use of the pills have caused him lasting damage – including knee and toe issues.
This is a horrible story to read about Anfield’s much-loved former son, and we can only hope Agger now finds peace in retirement.