David Beckham's World Cup hopes, and possibly his England career, are over after he ruptured his Achilles tendon playing for Milanon Sunday.
Beckham was getting ready to kick a ball unchallenged during Milan's 1-0 Serie A win over Chievo when he suddenly pulled up and signalled to the bench despite second-placed Milan having used all their substitutes. Beckham told the San Siro bench "It's broken, it's broken" as he came off. Team-mates said he was in tears in the dressing room. Club doctor Jean-Pierre Meerseman confirmed the injury, saying: "The World Cup is finished for David Beckham."
Meerseman will travel to Finland with Beckham on Monday where he will see specialist Sakari Orava for surgery. Orava said such an injury would take at least three months to recover from, and longer to achieve optimal performance. "To start kicking and playing football about three months," he said. "For maximal performances and maximum kicks and jumps, maybe it takes one month more; three to four months before one is able to do light playing. It's a total tear of the Achilles tendon. If there is any weakness then... a graft can be taken from the calf and put over the injury site to make it stronger. This kind of procedure is planned." That scenario would rule him out of the World Cup in South Africa. England play their first game against the USA in Rustenburg on June 12.
"When the Achilles tendon goes you feel it straight away," Milan coach Leonardo said after his side moved one point behind stuttering leaders Internazionale with 10 games left. "The injury to David is upsetting. This injury lets me enjoy the win less."
England are well-covered on the right wing with Theo Walcott, Shaun Wright-Phillips and James Milner among the players able to play there. Tottenham Hotspur's Aaron Lennon is currently injured.
Beckham, a former captain who played at the 1998, 2002 and 2006 World Cups, is England's most capped outfield player with 115 appearances. He suffered a broken metatarsal in his foot in 2002 and was not fully fit for the 2002 World Cup, when England went out in the quarter-finals.
Milan, bidding for their first scudetto since 2004, will also miss his crossing ability although he has been far less effective in this loan spell compared to his first stint at the San Siro last year. A dejected-looking Beckham, who left the San Siro on crutches to applause and kisses from club officials, was due to return to his parent club Los Angeles Galaxy after the World Cup. He gave no comment to reporters.