Colombia’s worst fears have been realized. Doctors confirmed Thursday that the hero of the country’s national soccer team, striker Radamel Falcao Garcia, has torn his ACL and is likely to miss the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The Colombian forward, who plays his club soccer at France’s AS Monaco FC, was carried off of the field Wednesday after being taken down from behind during a French Cup match against Chasselay. Spanish media outlets predicted an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, a common yet severe knee injury typically requiring surgery and several months of recuperation.
Early Thursday, Falcao was flown to Portugal to see surgeon Jose Carlos Noronha, a specialist in ACL injuries. Soon after examining, Noronha confirmed that the lesion was indeed a torn ACL on his left leg, according to news agency EFE.
While the players and club management at Monaco FC have voiced their concern — teammate Jeremy Toulalan was quoted saying, “we lost Radamel. It’s a blow to our future.” — no one will lament the injury as much as Colombian fans.
Brazil will be the first World Cup the country has participated in since France in 1998, and Colombia currently sits at number four in the FIFA World Rankings, its highest spot ever.
The “Cafeteros” have a strong all-around side and deep bench, but losing the 27-year-old superstar striker is still a disaster for those who have been waiting two decades to erase the memory of the 1994 World Cup, the last time the Colombians entered the tournament as a favorite and a lingering stain on the national pride.
ACL surgeries typically require around six months of total recovery time, and even then, it often takes a while before a player can return to full speed. No official timeline has been offered yet for Falcao’s rehab, but the World Cup begins in less than five months, on June 12, and will be over by mid-July.
Even should “El Tigre” return to the lineup by then, it’s hard to imagine he will be ready to play in the world’s elite footballing competition.