MILAN // David Beckham left a Milan hotel on crutches today and headed to the airport for a flight to Finland for surgery on his torn left Achilles tendon, an injury likely to keep him out of the World Cup. The 34-year-old former England captain was injured in the closing minutes of AC Milan's 1-0 win over Chievo Verona on Sunday. With his hopes of becoming the first English player to appear in four World Cups shattered and his future in international football in doubt, Beckham was scheduled to be operated on either later today or tomorrow morning by specialist surgeon Dr Sakari Orava.
"We have to wait for the results of the scan, but it looks like he is out of the World Cup," the England coach Fabio Capello said today. "David is a great professional and has worked very hard to be ready for the World Cup, so missing it will be a big blow." Orava told Finnish broadcaster YLE today that, although it's not realistic to expect Beckham to be fit for the World Cup just three months after surgery, there remains "a glimmer of hope" that he could be back for the tournament in South Africa.
Beckham, who has been staying at the Principe di Savoia hotel during his second loan stint with Milan, left with a grimace on his face, getting into a car with his father for the trip to Finland. "David is on way to Finland to see a specialist," Beckham's spokesman Simon Oliveira said. "He is understandably upset but wants to thank everyone who has sent him messages of support. He hopes to make a swift and full recovery."
His international career for England appears all but over and it remains to be seen how much he'll have left for the Los Angeles Galaxy and Major League Soccer. With only a few minutes remaining in the Chievo game and the score 0-0, Beckham was by himself in the centre circle when he took a pass with his left foot, stepped back awkwardly, then stepped forward and started hopping on his right foot with an expression of pain on his face.
He reached a hand down to his left heel, then stood up and gestured as if he was breaking a twig in half to show the AC Milan bench he knew the tendon was broken. Visibly in pain and in tears, Beckham went to the touchline for medical attention. * AP