Germany captain Michael Ballack ruled out of World Cup
Germany captain Michael Ballack has been ruled out of this summer's World Cup because of the right ankle injury he suffered in Saturday's FA Cup final.
The 33-year-old Chelsea midfielder has made 98 appearances for his country and played in the last two World Cups.
A scan showed damage to two ligaments but it is expected to be eight weeks before he can resume training and Germany's first match is on 13 June.
"It's bitter to get a diagnosis like that before the World Cup," he said.
Ballack was injured after a challenge by Portsmouth's Kevin-Prince Boateng.
Ironically, Boateng could be part of the Ghana squad that will face Germany in Group D at the finals in South Africa.
Ballack, who joined Chelsea in 2006 after four years with Bayern Munich, sustained a tear of one ankle ligament and a partial tear of another.
"There's naturally a lot of disappointment," he said. "But that's football. That happens. Life goes on."
Germany coach Joachim Loew said: "We were all naturally shocked this morning when we got the news. I talked to Michael. He's deeply disappointed. He put all his energy and power into playing in this World Cup.
"That's an immense disappointment for him to not be able to play in this World Cup."
Loew hopes the setback might galvanise his squad as the World Cup unfolds and added: "I called the team together and spoke with the team and passed along the information.
"It's very, very unfortunate for us. But it shows we have to pull all our strength together and look forward. We've got a lot of young players.
"We've now got to get to that point that our younger players get this self-confidence and can grew into the roles."
etc., etc., etc.
This news has made me so sad. I'm not even sure which is worse, this or Beckham's injury! Ballack is such a major force for the Germany NT and is basically an icon. He's always so motivational and happy (I'm acting like he died, lol), but seriously this is horrendous news for not only Germany supporters, but football fans. He's one of the two people who made me interested in football when I first started watching in 2006 and then in 2008 (the other being Cristiano Ronaldo). I thought Germany had a good chance of possibly winning this year (ehh, they do have some hurdles besides this one, now that I think of it...) but I'm not too sure now... this could go two ways--they become discouraged now that their captain and veteran teammate can't play, or they get inspired to win the World Cup for Michael (who probs can't play in another international tournament *waaaaah*). Hopefully it's the latter!