John McGinn was a 'millimetre from death' when training ground drill went wrong

John McGinn was not only crucial in Aston Villa’s stunning season, but he’s Scotland’s talisman too.

However, his career was almost cut short in horrifying fashion.


McGinn has been a megastar for Villa and is looking to shine again in GermanyCredit: Getty

The midfielder is fresh off captaining Unai Emery’s side to an incredible campaign, qualifying for the Champions League for the first time since 1983 with an astonishing fourth-place finish.

On top of becoming one of the Premier League’s best, McGinn is now one of Scotland’s too.

Currently their joint-sixth all-time top scorer, the 29-year-old will be leading the charge from midfield as Steve Clarke’s side look to qualify from a Euro 2024 group containing Germany, Hungary, and Switzerland.

Signed by Villa from Hibernian for just £2.7million in 2018, it’s been a long road to the top for McGinn, and one that was almost derailed in terrifying fashion in 2015.

The Glaswegian was plying his trade for St Mirren at the time, but already had it in his mind to leave before an injury struck him down for three months, but it could have been far worse.

During a training drill, McGinn tackled teammate Steven Thompson, knocking over a plastic pole in the process.

Thompson picked the object up and threw the spiked end back into the ground, but he didn’t realise McGinn had turned back and his leg was in the spike’s path.

“It went into the leg seven centimetres and I went to see the surgeon who told me I was fortunate still to be alive,” McGinn recalled.

“It was a millimetre away from the femoral artery so I would have bled out in a minute.”

The shocking incident made headline news in Scotland and abroad, with Thompson offering a profuse apology saying he was ‘shocked, mortified, and really down about it’.


McGinn’s career could have been cut short early at St. MirrenCredit: SNS

Thankfully, though, McGinn avoided disaster, but still spent three months on the sidelines.

“At the time, all I could think about was ‘Is my leg going to be okay?’” McGinn said, looking back at the near-miss.

“Thankfully the doctor was on the scene right away and I’ll be forever grateful to Gerry Canning for being on the spot. The physios and staff were really good. 

“Thankfully it missed the serious muscles in my leg or it could have been a lot worse.

“There was a lot of blood, but I can’t really remember much because it happened so quickly. I just remember looking down and I’m glad the pole came back out. 

“I’ll be keeping an eye out for them in the future… it wasn’t ideal. I’m just glad to have moved on and fully recovered. I’m lucky in that it could have been worse. I’ve got a scar but it’s only small.”


McGinn’s career trajectory has only gone upwards since the incident and now he’s Scotland’s talismanCredit: Getty

Despite the relief, the time on the sidelines and in between teams led to one of the most difficult periods of McGinn’s life.

“It was really tough, being out injured though,” he said at the time. “I just missed football. 

“I missed it an awful lot. As I was out of contract it wasn’t ideal. I didn’t even know if the contract offer from St Mirren would still be on the table. In the end it was but I decided that I needed a fresh challenge.”

McGinn spent time training with Owen Coyle at MLS side Houston Dynamo in order to regain his fitness, and he was finally able to move on from a sorry end to his time at St. Mirren when Hibernian paid £130,000 for his services.

They were rewarded for their faith three years later when Villa paid 20 times that amount to sign him, and now McGinn is a player worth his weight in gold.

Crucial in Scotland’s last two European Championship qualifications, McGinn will be depended on like never before this summer, and you can be sure he’ll be staying well clear of any training poles when he arrives in Germany for the tournament.

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