DAVID BECKHAM has vowed that the Achilles injury that has scuppered his dream of representing England at a record fourth World Cup will not bring down the curtain on his illustrious career.
Beckham underwent surgery on the tendon in Finland last night and, although Dr Sakari Orava said the procedure had gone “smoothly”, he confirmed the veteran midfielder would not recover in time for this summer’s tournament.
The 34-year-old, who suffered the rupture while playing on loan for AC Milan on Sunday, will remain in a cast for six to eight weeks before beginning physiotherapy.
That will not leave England’s most-capped outfield player enough time to regain fitness and strength for the World Cup, which starts in South Africa on 10 June.
But the LA Galaxy player, who has defied critics with the longevity of his career at the top level, is optimistic he can overcome the physical and mental scars.
“He is understandably upset but wants to thank everyone for their messages of support. He hopes to make a swift and full recovery,” read a statement on the former England captain’s website.
Beckham’s spokesman added: “David is understandably upset should he miss the World Cup but he is quite a positive individual. This is not the end of his playing career, as has been suggested.”
The ex-Real Madrid and Manchester United star flew by private jet to Turku in south-western Finland, where he was operated on for 50 minutes by renowned orthopaedic surgeon Orava.
The doctor said: “So far everything is fine. The operation went smoothly and nicely.” Asked whether Beckham could recover in time to become the first Englishman to play in four World Cups, he added: “No, I don’t think so. Healing takes a long time.”
England head coach Fabio Capello, who had been widely expected to pick Beckham in his 23-man squad, had said earlier: “It looks like he is out of the World Cup. 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.”