Beckham's World Cup dream ended by torn Achilles tendon
Published 23:17 14/03/10 By Martin Lipton
Devastated David Beckham was left looking at the end of his career last night after his World Cup dream was shattered by a torn achilles tendon.
Beckham collapsed in agony when he went down under no challenge and clutching his left foot in the final minutes of AC Milan's 1-0 win over Chievo.
As a tearful Beckham was carried away on a stretcher, he shouted to the Milan bench: "It's broken, it's broken."
And Milan coach Leonardo confirmed the worst when he disclosed that Beckham had torn the tendon.
Leonardo said: "David felt like he had been shot and all the pleasure at our win has been lost.
"David realised it was serious and told me straight away. But it is a very sad day."
Beckham will fly to Finland today to undergo surgery, according to AC Milan club physician Jean Pierre Meersseman.
He is expected to be out for six months, ruling him out of Fabio Capello's World Cup squad and dealing the England boss another bitter blow.
It was a heartbreaking way for Beckham's second England coming to end, after he had followed Capello's advice and returned to the San Siro for a second loan spell in a bid to earn a place in the World Cup squad.
While last night's game was only the eighth he had started for Milan since returning to Italy, his 25-minute cameo display at Old Trafford last week had served to cement his position as a certainty to be part of the England 23 which will pitch camp in Rustenburg on June 3.
Capello had planned to use Beckham as a 'closing pitcher', looking to use the veteran to see out the final 15 minutes of games when he could utilise his football brain and ball-keeping ability as well as that legendary set-piece delivery.
Beckham had happily accepted his changed position in the England set-up, a far cry from the spell under Sven Goran Eriksson when his dressing room power caused ructions for some of his team-mates.
But that ambition - with Beckham looking to make the five appearances that would have eclipsed Peter Shilton's England World Cup record of 17 games - ended as his body let him down once again - and perhaps for the last time.
And with Beckham turning 35 on May 2, the latest setback may be the final blow and spell the end of his career, certainly on the international stage, where his outfield record of 116 appearances means only Shilton has played more times for England.
Beckham, of course, has been here before, winning his desperate battle to lead England into the 2002 World Cup after fracturing his left metatarsal in a challenge by Deportivo La Coruna's Argentine defender Aldo Duscher three months before the tournament in the Far East.
Unlike Eriksson, though, Capello has already signaled he has no intention of taking any unfit players to the World Cup, insisting: "We have to make sure we choose the best player and the fittest players. They need to be fit, really fit."
Capello's worst fears were for more injuries, especially with Ashley Cole fighting to recover from a fractured ankle, Aaron Lennon in danger of missing the World Cup with his groin problem, Owen Hargreaves running out of time to return from nearly two years out with knee injuries and the permanent cloud hanging over Rio Ferdinand's back conmplaint.
Now Beckham has landed the Italian with another hammer-blow and probably brought down the curtain on a career that granted him highs and lows in equal measure but never the international success he craved so much.
Leonardo said: "David's injury makes us all feel bad and takes away all the joy of winning the game.
"Straightaway, as soon as he went down on the pitch, he knew it was serious because he heard the tendon tear and felt his muscle rip up.
"We all know the great contribution of David and that he is an amazing guy. It is a massive blow for us and for him."