Germany captain Michael Ballack will miss the World Cup because of a
right ankle injury, dealing the three-time champions a serious blow less
than a month before the tournament.
The German soccer federation
said Monday that the 33-year-old Chelsea midfielder had torn ligaments
in his right ankle from a tackle during his club’s 1-0 FA Cup final
victory over Portsmouth on Saturday. Ballack’s ankle has been put in a
cast and the federation said he won’t be able to train for at least
“It’s very disappointing, but I have to accept it,”
Ballack told German television, standing with crutches. “It’s football
and you have to live with it. … I am angry, clearly.”
absence leaves Germany coach Joachim Loew without his most experienced
player and leader in a squad with many young players.
probably costs Ballack another chance to win the World Cup title after
reaching the 2002 final and the 2006 semifinals.
“We are shocked,
no question about it, and we are all very, very sad,” Loew said at the
team’s training camp in Sicily. “He is a very important player for us, a
world class player who played a very important role in decisive games
“There can be no question of resignation now. We are sure
we can still play a good tournament.”
Loew will now have to pick a
new captain and find someone to fill the defensive midfield role played
by Ballack, Germany’s three-time player of the year.
long and distinguished service, Ballack has been unable to win a title
with Germany. He played a total of 63 minutes in his first major
tournament, the 2000 European Championship.
Two years later in
Japan and South Korea, his goals against the United States and South
Korea helped Germany reach the final. But he missed the final loss to
Brazil after receiving a yellow card in the semifinals.
European championship was another disappointment, with Germany
eliminated after the group stage. Juergen Klinsmann then took over as
coach and selected Ballack as his captain.
Ballack missed the
opening match of the 2006 World Cup in Germany because of a calf injury
and didn’t score in the tournament.
He had two ankle operations
before Euro 2008 but injured a calf before the final. Ballack played the
match but Germany lost to Spain.
Ballack flew to Germany late
Sunday to be examined by national team and Bayern Munich doctor
Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt on Monday. Ballack’s ankle was still too
swollen Sunday for a previously scheduled scan in London.
federation said he should make a full recovery.
Ballack, who has
made 98 appearances for Germany and scored 42 goals, was injured
Saturday after a tackle by Kevin-Prince Boateng, previously a Bundesliga
player who is the half brother of Germany defender Jerome Boateng.
Kevin-Prince Boateng has chosen to play for Ghana, the country of his
father and one of Germany’s World Cup opponents.
Loew called the
tackle “brutal,” and Ballack said the foul might have been intentional.
Ballack and Boateng were involved in a scuffle shortly before the foul.
have seen it on TV and to say it was not on purpose means you have to
be a friend of Boateng,” Ballack said after the final at Wembley.
“Boateng was lucky to get away with a yellow, but it is football and if
the referee controls the game and decides it is no red card you have to
Boateng was born and raised in Berlin and played for
several Germany youth selections, including the under-21 team. From
Hertha Berlin, he moved to Tottenham, then went on loan to Borussia
Dortmund before joining Portsmouth.
Germany’s incomplete squad has
been in Sicily since Friday. Seven players from Bayern Munich will join
only after Saturday’s Champions League final against Inter Milan.
opens its World Cup campaign against Australia and then plays Serbia
and Ghana in Group D.
– Associated Press