World Cup: Injury rules Germany captain Michael Ballack out of tournament
Germany's hopes of winning the 2010 World Cup in South Africa received a serious blow on Monday when Michael Ballack, the team's leader and top midfielder, was ruled out of the tournament because of an injury suffered in Chelsea's English F.A. Cup final victory on Saturday.
Ballack, 33, tore the ligaments in his right ankle when he was tackled by Portsmouth's Kevin-Prince Boateng, a former German youth international who recently changed nationality so that he could play for Ghana in the World Cup.
Boateng apologized for the tackle, which Joachim Low, Germany's coach, called "brutal."
"I am sorry, there was no intent" to harm Ballack, Boateng said. "I was late and hit him with full force."
Ballack helped Germany reach the final of the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan, where it lost to Brazil in the final, and also led it to third place when it hosted the tournament in 2006. He has represented his country 98 times and scored 42 goals. He has been played a pivotal role for the national team for more than a decade.
"We are shocked, no question about it," Low said, "and we are all very, very said. He is a very important player for us, a world-class player."
Ballack, who won both the English Premier League title and the F.A. Cup with Chelsea this season, said he was "angry" but was also philosophical. "It's football and you have to live with it," he said.
--Grahame L. Jones
The Associated Press contributed to this report.