While playing for River Plate, Diego Buanotte had to recover from injuries he suffered in a car accident in which he was involved on December 26 – 2009. Buanotte was the “lucky one” as three friends traveling with him in the car were killed. His father feared both for Buanotte’s physical health as well as psychological trauma that young Diego faced.
Buanotte is far from the only young soccer player to be involved in a serious car accident. Young American forward Charlie Davies had to recover from injuries he sustained in an October (2009) crash in which he was a passenger. Like Buanotte, Davies was lucky, as a friend of his died in the accident.
Buanotte and Davies were both seriously injured in crashes, but other players who have been involved in accidents have – often incredibly – escaped unharmed. Such is the case of Real Madrid and France forward Karim Benzema, who was involved in a crash the day after Christmas back in 2009. Benzema smashed up his yellow Lamborghini in a crash with a Porsche. Incredibly, this was the second accident in which the young Frenchman has been involved that year in the span of two months. He also managed to smash his car into a tree on his way home in November 2009. Incredibly, he walked away from both accidents unscathed.
Benzema’s teammate Cristiano Ronaldo was also incredibly lucky to escape without serious injury after crashing his Ferrari into the wall of a tunnel in Manchester back in 2009. Images afterward showed a smashed-up car but Ronaldo was still as pretty as ever.
Former Dutch international Patrick Kluivert is another player to be involved in a serious car accident. In 1995, while a young Ajax star-in-the-making, Kluivert plowed his car into Marten Putman and killed the Amsterdam man. Kluivert was eventually charged with manslaughter, though he never served time in prison. Kluivert said later that the incident shook him deeply. He said, “Something inside me is broken. I can never be fully happy again. Before the accident, I was sometimes reckless, but that is normal for my age. Now, in one moment, it is gone. The child in me has been killed. Only when I am on the field can I be myself [and] feel completely free.”
Kluivert’s words indicate one reason why players are often involved in car accidents. Young, famous, and wealthy, they see themselves as invincible, and often act recklessly. Some, like Benzema and Ronaldo, escape without serious injury; others, like Buanotte, Davies, and Kluivert cause serious injury to themselves and to others.
What is the effect of such accidents on the players themselves? For Kluivert, it may have been one of the main reasons why the player who looked a worldbeater at age 18 never replicated that form later in his career. Kluivert floundered at teams throughout Europe before calling time on his career few years back. What will become of Diego Buanotte and Charlie Davies? Both face a long road back to full physical and psychological health. They will need tremendous strength to overcome the trauma of serous car accidents and live out the potential both young players have shown on the field.