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David Beckham ruled out of World Cup after tearing Achilles tendon

David Beckham will miss the World Cup after suffering a torn Achilles tendon injury that leaves the former England captain facing a battle to save his playing career.

The 34 year-old, currently on loan at AC Milan from LA Galaxy in an effort to prove his fitness to England coach Fabio Capello, suffered the injury during the closing stages of Milan’s 1-0 victory against Chievo on Sunday evening.

A tearful Beckham limped to the touchline, appearing to says ‘It’s broken, it’s broken,’ after sustaining the injury without physical contact from an opponent.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder, who has been capped 115 times by his country, had looked set to earn a place in Capello’s 23-man squad for World Cup 2010 in South Africa.

But Beckham now faces a lengthy road back to full fitness – a journey which is likely to prove altogether more difficult for a player who turns 35 in May – following confirmation from Milan coach Leonardo that he has suffered a serious injury.

Leonardo said: "Beckham's injury makes us feel terrible. David understood immediately that he had torn his Achilles tendon.

“He felt the muscle begin to come up, which is a typical symptom when you break an Achilles' tendon. This is a real blow. He is an extraordinary guy and today's game proves it yet again.

"But I cannot enjoy this evening considering this serious injury.”

Beckham, who left the San Siro on crutches following the Chievo game, is understood to have spoken to Capello following the injury on Sunday night, with the Italian offering his commiserations to the player.

The loss of Beckham will be viewed as a real blow by Capello, who is already waiting on the fitness of the injured Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon.

With left-back Ashley Cole battling to recover from a broken ankle, plus the international retirement of Wayne Bridge and failure of Owen Hargreaves to return from double knee surgery, Capello is already facing mounting injury worries ahead of the World Cup, which kicks-off in three months’ time.

Beckham’s absence is now likely to open the door for either Shaun Wright-Phillips or Theo Walcott to take his place on the right side of midfield.

But the long-term future of a player who made his England debut under Glenn Hoddle in Moldova in 1996 is now in doubt as a result of his Achilles injury.

Former England midfielder Neil Webb and John Barnes both suffered similar injuries and struggled to regain their previous form and, at 34, Beckham’s prospects would appear bleak.

Achilles victims

Beckham is not the first leading footballer to suffer from an Achilles tendon injury.

NEIL WEBB: Weeks after completing £1.5m move from Nottingham Forest to Manchester United, Webb ruptured his Achilles in England friendly against Sweden. Sidelined for eight months.

JOHN BARNES: Suffered a torn Achilles while playing for England against Finland in final warm-up game for Euro 92. Missed the tournament and injury blunted his pace for remainder of career.

YAKUBU: The Everton forward was sidelined for nine months from Nov 2008 after suffering a ruptured Achilles while playing against Spurs.

© Telegraph.co.uk