Germany captain and midfielder Michael Ballack will miss this summer's World Cup because of an ankle injury he sustained while playing for Chelsea during Saturday's FA Cup final.
The German soccer federation confirmed that the 33-year-old tore ligaments in his right ankle when he was tackled by Portsmouth's Kevin-Prince Boateng. Chelsea went on to win the game, 1-0, completing its double after claiming the Premiership title the week before.
Ballack, however, could not revel in the Blues' success. He told German television: "It's football and you have to live with it. ... I am angry, clearly."
The hard tackle may have stemmed from an incident only minutes earlier when Ballack was whistled for a foul on Portsmouth forward Aruna Dindane. Boateng stepped in and the two got into a bit of a scuffle, which ended soon after Ballack slapped him lightly on the head. (In the video embedded below, the initial scuffle is shown at the beginning, and the foul at 2:40.)
The loss of Ballack, the only player on Germany's 30-man roster playing for a club team outside of Germany, is a huge blow for head coach Joachim Loew. Ballack, who has been capped 98 times, is Germany's three-time player of the year and a key player for the 2002 team that made it to the final, and the 2006 semifinal squad.
Ballack has scored 42 goals for the Germans since 2001. It was his goal that eliminated the Americans in the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup.
Photo credit: AP File, 2009