England and LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham suffered a "complete tear" of his Achilles tendon in AC Milans'' match against Chievo on Sunday and has already been ruled out of any chance for a return in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
With only a few minutes remaining and the score 0-0, the former England captain was by himself with the ball at his feet, shifted his weight and then reached a hand down to his left heel. Beckham then stood up and snapped his wrists like he was breaking a twig in half in a gesture to show the AC Milan bench he knew the tendon was broken.
In a career consisting of a remarkable series of incredible highs and devastating lows, the "catastrophic" injury follows the heartwarming standing ovation he received at Old Trafford just last Wednesday, at least partly due to his wearing the green and gold scarf which is the symbol of fan anger at the Glazer family.
An injury such as this almost certainly ends his international career and calls into question his ability to compete again at any level.
According to REUTERS Beckham will fly to Finland today, arriving about 7 AM EDT this morning. Dr. Sakiri Orava, who will perform the surgery on Tuesday and who AC Milan VP Adriano Galliano called "a genius at this kind of surgery" told reporters:
"It's a total tear of the Achilles tendon. If there is any weakness then... a graft can be taken from the calf and put over the injury site to make it stronger. This kind of procedure is planned."
Doctors are estimating that it could be six months before he can begin full activity.
Not having stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night, I can't say for certain that this kind of thing is one of the risks you run when a 34 year old athlete competes year after year with no breaks, no downtime, no chance for the body to recuperate.
The LA Galaxy has yet to comment.