TURKU, Finland (AP) — David Beckham’s left Achilles’ tendon was “totally torn,” and the doctor who performed the surgery said the England midfielder is expected to be out of action for about six months.
Dr. Sakari Orava said the 34-year-old Beckham was expected to recover well from the injury but was all but certain to miss the World Cup in South Africa in June.
“He is doing well and the operation lasted just under an hour. It went very well,” Orava told The Associated Press after the operation at the Mehilainen clinic in Turku, southwestern Finland. “He will have to take it very easy during the next two to three weeks or a month, and then he will continue with a recuperation program slowly.
“The foot won’t take much strain for two to three months.”
Orava also said it would be “four months to running” and another two months before playing.
“He was a bit depressed, which is normal, and because his leg was in pain he had not slept a lot last night and he was happy to get treatment as soon as possible,” Orava said.
Beckham’s spokesman, Simon Oliveira, said the tendon was completely repaired, but he expected Beckham to return to the game.
“David is expected to make a full recovery,” Oliveira said.
The former England captain was injured in the closing minutes of AC Milan’s 1-0 win over Chievo Verona on Sunday.
Orava said Beckham would stay the night at the clinic and likely leave Finland on Tuesday. A statement from AC Milan said Beckham would remain under observation for a few days.
“Tomorrow, Professor Orava will give his prognosis, and a precise rehabilitation plan will follow,” Milan said.
Using crutches, Beckham hobbled out of a private jet at Turku airport in southwestern Finland at about 4 p.m. (1400 GMT) and was whisked away in a Mercedes. Just minutes later, he arrived at the clinic surrounded by security guards amid cheers from hundreds of fans who had gathered outside the entrance.
“I am upset but (want) to thank everyone for their messages of support,” Beckham said in a statement posted on his personal Web site before his arrival. “I hope to make a swift and full recovery.”
The injury shattered Beckham’s hopes of becoming the first English player to appear in four World Cups and put his future in international football in doubt.
Beckham’s 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.
Capello and his England assistant, Franco Baldini, spoke with Beckham on the telephone to offer best wishes.
With only a few minutes remaining in the Chievo game and the score 0-0, Beckham was by himself in the center 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.
Orava told the AP the tendon “was totally torn,” not just a small rupture.
Milan’s medical staff consulted with the Galaxy’s medical team, and Milan organizing director Umberto Gandini spoke with Timothy J. Leiweke, president and CEO of AEG which owns the Galaxy, but it was Beckham who decided to go to Finland.
“It was the player’s decision,” Gandini told the AP on Monday. “It’s the player who decides for his own health, and the player’s decision was to go to Finland where there is a surgeon who specializes in these injuries.”
While Beckham has not been a starter for England in recent matches, he was likely to make the World Cup squad. Beckham was still prized for his free kicks and crosses, especially when England needed second-half goals.
And for many, he is the best-known football player in the world, a fashion icon with a celebrity wife, former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham.
The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star was on his second loan stint at AC Milan from the Galaxy as he tried to boost his chances of making Capello’s 23-man World Cup squad. He has scored 17 goals for England and made 115 appearances, second in England history behind only goalkeeper Peter Shilton’s 125 from 1970-90.
Beckham was England’s captain from November 2000 through the 2006 World Cup.
It was yet another blow for Major League Soccer, already facing the threat of a players’ strike ahead of the season opener on March 25. Beckham is the league’s highest-paid player with a $32.5 million, five-year contract — and its biggest draw.
“We just received the information about David’s unfortunate injury,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said. “We wish him a speedy recovery.”
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said it was too early to tell exactly how long Beckham, who was due to join Los Angeles after the World Cup, will be out. Arena didn’t want to discuss the impact the injury would have on the season. He wouldn’t blame the injury on the loan.
“Players get hurt whether they’re on loan or not,” he said. “Injuries are unfortunately part of the game.”