Former Liverpool star Daniel Agger admits overuse of anti-inflammatories
Former Liverpool defender Daniel Agger has opened up about his overuse of pain-killing medication during his career.
Agger, 31, who joined Liverpool in 2006 from Brondby before returning to his boyhood club eight years later, retired from football last month.
When the Danish centre-back departed Anfield in the summer of 2014, he said that his body was "feeling the effects of playing regularly in a league that is as physically demanding as the Premier League" and rejected a number of advances from Premier League and European clubs.
And, in an interview with Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, Agger revealed the extent of what he used to put his body through in order to continue his career.
"I have taken too much anti-inflammatories in my career," Agger said. "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."
Agger recalls one game in particular for Brondby which made him stop taking the anti-inflammatories. The centre-back only lasted 29 minutes against FC Copenhagen in the Danish league in March 2015 before he collapsed and was taken to the physio room.
Prior to that game, Agger had picked up a knock and was doubtful to play, so took the maximum recommended dose of anti-inflammatory drugs -- which had the side effect of drowsiness -- in the week before and on matchday.
"I only had one thought and that was to remain in the dressing room after the warm-up but then I put the shirt on and decided to play," he said.
"The body could not cope with it. 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."
Just 14 months after the FC Copenhagen game, Agger announced his retirement at a news conference, citing that his body could no longer take it.
"I am in a place where I have had enough, mentally and physically," Agger said. "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."
The former Denmark international also discussed other factors as to why he left Liverpool, feeling that the relationship between him and then-manager Brendan Rodgers had broken down.
Agger said that the 1-0 defeat to Southampton back in September 2013 -- in which he played injured and his mistake led to the winning goal -- was the beginning of the end for his Liverpool career.
"After the game he did not speak to me," Agger added. "Something went wrong. I was the first to admit that it was my fault. I apologised but, as one of the physios said, there was no need to apologise as the other 50 times that I had said that I was ready and played, even if I wasn't fit, it had been fine. In those games one couldn't see it but then there was this game, where I could not keep track [of my player].
"Maybe he felt that I wasn't good enough and that Mamadou Sakho, Kolo Toure and Martin Skrtel were better than me. Then fair enough because the most important thing is for Liverpool to win football games. That's the most important thing for me too.
"But in 42 days I went from being first-choice and the club's new vice-captain to be fourth choice centre-back. So I have thought a lot about it."
Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.