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Why should I use past perfect not past simple?

In November 2001, he ran onto the pitch to play for Inter Milan against Lecce. The fans cheered; he hadn't played almost two years, since he _______ (damage) his knee... He fell down and didn't get up. He___ (injure) his knee again.

The answers are: had damaged, had injured.

I don't understand. Why can't I just say damaged, injured?

 

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