With wife at side, Becks on feet after surgery
TURKU, Finland — With his celebrity wife at his side, David Beckham was back on his feet and walking on crutches Tuesday after surgery to repair the torn Achilles' tendon that will sideline him for about six months.
The 34-year-old former England captain "feels fine and is happy" as he recuperates from Monday's operation at a private clinic in Finland, his surgeon told The Associated Press. He added that Beckham would stay at the clinic until Wednesday.
"He does not have much pain and has started walking today and gradually done it more and more," Dr. Sakari Orava said.
Beckham was injured in the closing minutes of AC Milan's 1-0 win over Chievo Verona on Sunday. He was on his second loan to the Italian club from Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy.
"I'm feeling positive and now concentrating on getting back to full fitness over the coming months," Beckham said in a statement Tuesday.
Orava said Beckham's left Achilles' tendon was totally torn, ruling out his hopes of playing in his fourth World Cup. The tournament starts June 11 in South Africa.
"It is hard to tell, but in general I can say that after an Achilles' tendon tear, a total rupture, people usually are back in sports within half a year," Orava said.
AC Milan said Beckham would begin rehabilitation right away. He is not to put weight on his injured foot for two weeks and can undergo physical therapy in a pool after six weeks.
"The plan includes a complete recovery in six months, at the end of which he can play again," the club said in a statement.
Beckham's wife, Victoria Beckham, formerly known as "Posh Spice" of the Spice Girls, arrived by private jet Tuesday afternoon at a snowy Turku airport. She was taken to the clinic in a van with tinted windows.
Wearing a short black dress, sunglasses and no coat, she was met by dozens of screaming fans and photographers. A policewoman and a security officer escorted her out of the car, fending off the pushing crowd as she hurriedly made her way to the elevator.
David Beckham is under contract to AC Milan until June 30.
"So all the eventual contractual obligations will continue to apply," Milan organizing director Umberto Gandini told the AP. "After June 30, he will become a Los Angeles Galaxy player again. From the contractual point of view, absolutely nothing changes. The fact that he was injured doesn't change affect his contract."
Milan physicians followed Beckham to Finland and will also coordinate the first steps of rehabilitation.
"Until June 30 his rehab will be arranged in accordance with Milan and the Los Angeles Galaxy," Gandini said, adding that Milan could send one of its trainers to Los Angeles if Beckham chooses to return to California.
The injury shattered Beckham's hopes of becoming the first English player to appear in four World Cups and put his future on the national team in doubt. He will miss most of the MLS season.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown sent a get-well message to Beckham and praised his role as a soccer ambassador.
"He emphasized what a tremendous ambassador Mr. Beckham is for English soccer and wishes him well in his recovery, as I think the whole nation does," Brown spokesman Simon Lewis said.
Players: Beckham injury to have profound impact
Beckham's prolonged absence because of an injury suffered in Europe will affect the Los Angeles Galaxy profoundly, Galaxy players said.
"With this team, it's massive," said Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter, who played for the United States in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. "He's a huge part of this team. It's (a matter of) trying to figure out what to do next."
The Galaxy's season ends in October so Beckham will miss most of the MLS season.
"He's an important part to AC Milan, he's an important part to England and he's a vital part to us," Galaxy midfielder Chris Klein said. "On the field, the leadership, the quality he brings, you don't replace that."
Galaxy midfielder Bryan Jordan said Beckham provided a positive example for young players.
"I look at how he does things, how he keeps the ball, where he loses the ball, how he gets his crosses in," Jordan said. "I've looked up to him even before playing with him."
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said he had no idea when Beckham would return.
"I don't think I've ever had a player with an Achilles' tendon tear," Arena said. "When they say 'six months,' it's probably accurate. That might even be aggressive. You don't know how the player reacts to the surgery, therapy, rehab, all that stuff."
Nevertheless, Arena said Beckham's absence will not alter the Galaxy's basic approach to offense.
"We're not going to change anything," Arena said. "We were going to be playing without him up until July, anyway. We won't need to be making any adjustments if he's not back in July."