David Beckham was in tears on Sunday night when his dream of being the first England player to appear in four World Cups was wrecked after he suffered a ruptured achilles tendon.
The former England captain limped to the touchline during AC Milan's 1-0 win over Chievo and he was reported to have said 'It's broken, it's broken' as he came off.
Broken dream: England midfielder David Beckham leaves the pitch after being injured during AC Milan's victory over Chievo
He will have surgery in Finland today, but the injury is so severethat Beckham already knows he will not be going to South Africa withhis country this summer for a competition that would have given him thechance to close in on goalkeeper Peter Shilton's internationalappearance record of 125 caps.He is currently on 115.
Black and red: David Beckham was left with a bloodied face after being kicked in the face by Chievo midfielder Giampiero Pinzi
Agony: David Beckham hobbles off the pitch after being injured against Chievo
The AC Milan doctor said last night that Beckham would be out forbetween five and eight months, and the fear must be that not only hisEngland days but his career may be over. The news amounts to another massive setback for national managerFabio Capello, who was determined to select Beckham in his 23-mansquad.
While the 34-year-old is no longer an automatic choice for thestarting line-up, Capello saw him as an alternative to the quickwingers he prefers and someone who has a positive influence in thedressing room.
Only last week Beckham proved his value when he League game againstManchester United at Old Trafford. Milan were comprehensively beaten4-0 on the night, and 7-2 on aggregate, by the English champions butBeckham emerged as their most effective player.
HIS WORLD CUPS1998: Beckham wasn't picked for England's opening two group gamesin France but scored his first international goal in the third against Colombia with a spectacular free-kick. He was then sent off against Argentina for kicking out at Diego Simeone as Glenn Hoddle's England went out on penalties.2002: Beckham overcame a brokenmetatarsal to lead Sven Goran Eriksson's side in Japan and South Korea. He cored a match-winning penalty against Argentina before quarter-final heartbreak against Brazil.2006: Beckham's record-equalling third appearance for England at the finals in Germany again saw him at the heart of Eriksson's team. A second-round goal against Ecuador was his last as skipper. He gave up the armband 24 hours after England's exit to Portugal on penalties.
His commitment to playing at the World Cup has been admirable.Conscious that his England place was under threat while an LA Galaxyplayer, he completed a loan move to Milan for the last two winters in abid to satisfy Capello.
That he has succeeded in remaining a member of the Italian's squadreflects well on him but this injury will raise questions over whetherhe is a victim of playing an essentially year-long season.
Returning to the starting line-up after Milan's loss to United lastnight, Beckham had also been treated for a deep cut to his right cheekearly in the first half following a collision.
Milan team-mate Ignazio Abate said after the game: 'He was in tears.He didn't say very much.' Milan coach Leonardo added: 'He felt themuscle begin to come up, which is a typical symptom when you break anachilles' tendon. This is a real blow.'
But Adriano Galliani, Milan's vice-president responsible fortransfers offered Beckham some hope for the future. He said: 'I saw himreally suffering. In the changing room I hugged him and told him thatif he wants he can join us next year, too.'
Heart-break: Beckham (bottom) lies on the pitch in front of AC Milan coach Leonardo
Milan physician Jean Pierre Meersseman told Italy's Sky TV thatBeckham will fly to Finland today for surgery, where he will be treatedby specialist surgeon Sakari Orava.
Beckham's injury continues a wretched run of bad luck for England.As well as stripping John Terry of the captaincy amid the scandal andcontroversy over his affair with Vanessa Perroncel that also caused hisformer Chelsea teammate Wayne Bridge to make himself unavailable forhis country, manager Capello has major concerns over the fitness ofAshley Cole, who suffered a fractured ankle last month.
Tough luck: David Beckham almost crowned an impressive display against Chievo with a goal - and then injury struck
In addition to that, there are nagging worries over the fitness andform of new skipper Rio Ferdinand as well as fellow defender GlenJohnson.
Last time: David Beckham playing for England in World Cup qualifier against Belarus
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