Injured Beckham Will Miss Soccer's World Cup Soccer star David Beckham's left Achilles' tendon was severed in game over the weekend. The doctor who performed Monday's surgery says the England midfielder is expected to be out of action for about six months. BBC senior soccer reporter Ian Dennis talks to Renee Montagne about Beckham missing the World Cup.
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Injured Beckham Will Miss Soccer's World Cup

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Injured Beckham Will Miss Soccer's World Cup

Injured Beckham Will Miss Soccer's World Cup

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

The world's most famous soccer player is now sidelined for at least six months. David Beckham tore an Achilles' tendon over the weekend and had it surgically repaired yesterday. Beckham was hoping to play for England in the World Cup this summer for a record fourth time. We reached the BBC's senior football, or soccer, reporter, Ian Dennis.

Welcome to the program.

Mr. IAN DENNIS (Senior Football Reporter, BBC): Thank you, Renee.

MONTAGNE: So now that David Beckham has had that surgery, what is the prognosis on, you know, his future athletic abilities?

Mr. DENNIS: Well, I mean, I'm not a medical expert, but I'm told that once you've actually ruptured your Achilles, it never repairs itself to 100 percent. So, you know, there is the possibility that he's not going to be the same player as he once was. He's obviously going to have to just take his time. He's going to have to, you know, recuperate.

Now, that is the crucial part, because the Achilles is the muscle that connects the calf to the heel bone. Now, I'm told it takes at least three months, but possibly up to - sometimes up to six months for a complete recovery. So he's going to have a long time on the sidelines.

And, obviously, everybody with Greek mythology will know that Achilles was the hero in the Trojan War who was shot in the heel and died. This would be a shot to David Beckham's heart, because he will be devastated at missing out on the fourth successive World Cup for his country.

MONTAGNE: Right. I mean, but he is 34 years old. Yet, his career has evolved from his heroics, you know, as a young English superstar to being almost an elder player. But I understand he showed some of his old brilliance last week against one of his old teams.

Mr. DENNIS: Well, he returned to Old Trafford, which is the home of Manchester United, for the first time in his career as a player for A.C. Milan in the Champions League. And he received truly a wonderful reception from 75,000 people. And watching it, it looked like he was visibly touched by the reception he received. It was obviously a very emotional game for him.

MONTAGNE: Right.

Mr. DENNIS: He is - he's a national treasure, Renee, in this country. He's gone full circle, because there was, at times, when he was booed and criticized when he played for England. And although he's now 34, he turns 35 in May. So during this enforced absence, it is going to be potentially a threatening injury. Whether he plays for England again, I'm not too sure.

His advisors are saying he will come back fitter and stronger. And obviously, his contract with L.A. Galaxy, it runs until 2012. So we may well see David Beckham return to the football field. Whether we see him pull on the white shirt and the three lions of England, I'm not so sure.

MONTAGNE: You know, of course, he's also tied up with his great fame and whatnot with multi-million dollar sponsorships. Would this affect that?

Mr. DENNIS: No, I don't think so. I think because he's so revered in this country, I don't think his sponsors will have any worries whatsoever whilst he's out injured.

MONTAGNE: Because he still looks good. And by now...

Mr. DENNIS: He still looks good. You know, he's still as photogenic as ever. And, in fact, although he wouldn't have gone and wouldn't have started England's games in the World Cup - and, of course, their first game is against America in Rustenburg - I think he would have been part of Fabio Capello's 23-man squad. He would have had a role to play. He would have certainly been an impact player at some stage during the tournament. And, in fact, the papers here this morning are suggesting that Fabio Capello may well still take him in some sort of like a team cheerleading role.

So I think they and, don't forget, England are bidding for the 2018 World Cup. Obviously, the States are looking for the 2022 World Cup. So I think even in an ambassadorial role...

MONTAGNE: OK.

Mr. DENNIS: ...I would still expect to see David Beckham in South Africa.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for joining us.

Ian Dennis is the BBC's senior football reporter.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: It's NPR News.

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