Daniel Agger has admitted to dangerous overuse of anti-inflammatories during his career, and discussed the damage his over-reliance on medication has done to his health.
Speaking in a series of interviews with Danish paper Jyllands-Posten, the former Liverpool and Brøndby centre-back has discussed the tipping point in his anti-inflammatory use. It was a match between Brøndby and FC Copenhagen in March 2015, during which he was delirious and could barely see. Afterwards he collapsed in the physio room, and he could not remember the incident later on.
In the week prior to the match he had taken two Celebrex pills three times a day. Celebrex is used to treat rheumatism and joint problems, and is not supposed to be used more than three days in a row. He was suffering from prolonged drowsiness as a side effect of the medication, but countered that with caffeine shots and energy drinks. Eventually, the combination became too much for him, and his "body could not cope with it."
Agger told Jyllands-Posten: "I have taken too many anti-inflammatories in my career. I know that full well, and it sucks, but I did stop 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 [because of me talking about the issue]."
Speaking about the aftermath of the Copenhagen match, Agger said that his wife could barely bring herself to speak about the anti-inflammatories. "She has said time and time again that I should stop taking the medicine," he said. "It went in one ear and out the other."
"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."
Agger retired in June 2016, at the age of 31. He suffered from hypermobility throughout his career, which left his joints overextended. He started having back problems in 2007, which were made worse by a nasty fall during a pre-season tour of Thailand in 2008. He suffered a prolapsed disc in his back not long afterwards, which led to further pain in his knees and toes.
He still suffers from pain in his back, and admitted that his chronic overuse of anti-inflammatories could have implications for his health in the long term. Speaking about his lowest point using the medication, he said: "When the head can't work out [how to stop], then the body had to do it."