England manager Fabio Capello confirmed yesterday that David Beckham is expected to miss the World Cup after suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon.
The 34-year-old former England captain was hurt in AC Milan's 1-0 Serie A win over Chievo at the San Siro on Sunday night.
Capello said he had spoken to the midfielder and it was now likely he would miss the showpiece event in South Africa this summer.
"We have to wait for the results of the scan, but it looks like he is out of the World Cup," said Capello.
"I spoke with him after the game on Sunday night to offer my support.
"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."
Beckham pulled up in pain during Milan's Serie A game without coming into contact with anyone else and limped distraught to the sidelines for treatment.
The multi-millionaire will be operated on at the sports injury clinic of Mehilaeinen hospital in Turku, Finland, orthopedic surgeon Sakari Orava said. The World Cup gets under way in South Africa on June 11.
Milan coach Leonardo said: "David's injury is bad for us. This was an important victory tonight, but this injury prevents us from really enjoying it.
"It's an important injury and we need to be able to judge how serious it is.
"David realised straightaway what had happened. He understood that it was a serious problem and he said so immediately. It's such a great shame. He's a great lad who makes a huge contribution to the team."
Beckham, desperate to feature in Fabio Capello's England squad for South Africa and play in a fourth World Cup finals, twisted his left ankle during the final minutes of Sunday's match. He limped off the field and was stretchered away in pain and in tears.
"This injury has been a heavy blow for him and for us. Unfortunately the party is ruined," added Leonardo.
Dutch veteran Clarence Seedorf, who had scored Milan's winner in the game, said he had great sympathy for Beckham.
"David is very bad. When it happened, it didn't seem to be a big thing, but eventually it looked to be a serious enough injury," said Seedorf. Milan defender Ignazio Abate said the England star was inconsolable.
"He's not doing well. He was in tears in the dressing room, he wasn't saying a lot. This has affected us all."
Earlier on Sunday, Beckham had admitted he was far from certain to win a place in England's squad for the World Cup finals. Beckham was an unused substitute in England's friendly win over Egypt as Capello opted to look at Theo Walcott and Shaun Wright-Phillips on the right wing instead of the veteran for the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer.
The 34-year-old joined AC Milan on loan in an attempt to convince Capello he can still make an impact at the highest level.
- He was born on May 2, 1975, in London. He joined Manchester United as a 16-year-old trainee in 1991
- Beckham made his England debut on September 1, 1996, in a World Cup qualifier against Moldova
- Beckham captained England on 58 occasions
- In 2006, he resigned as England captain after his side lost in the World Cup quarter-finals to Portugal
- Beckham has earned 115 caps, an England outfield record
- He signed for Real Madrid from United for £25 million (Dh150.5m) in 2003
- He joined the Los Angeles Galaxy in July 2007