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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Soccer: Beckham leaves Finland after surgery

Associated Press Writer

TURKU, Finland David Beckham and his wife Victoria left Finland on Wednesday on a private jet to London, two days after the former England captain had surgery for a torn Achilles' tendon.

The plane carrying the couple took off in a light snow shower shortly after they arrived from the clinic where Beckham had surgery on his left foot. The injury that will keep him sidelined for about six months, meaning he will miss the World Cup in South Africa.

The couple made no comments as they left, and it wasn't immediately clear where they were heading. Beckham's doctor, who had earlier said they would likely travel to London and later to the United States, said Wednesday he "had no idea where they are flying to."

"I did say that perhaps it would not be wise to fly straight off to Los Angeles ... that he should stop somewhere first," said Sakari Orava, the orthopedic surgeon who performed the operation.

Orava said Beckham was "well and in a good mood."

"He has to take it easy for about a month that's how long it will be in a cast and then week-by-week he can move the foot and use it more," Orava told The Associated Press.

Earlier, police pushed back dozens of shouting fans as the couple got into a silver Volkswagen van parked outside the clinic in southwestern Finland just before 2 p.m. (1200 GMT). Escorted by two police cars, they were taken to the local airport.

The 34-year-old Beckham tore his left Achilles' tendon when playing for AC Milan on Sunday and underwent surgery in Turku on Monday.

Before Beckham's departure, Orava and medical teams reviewed a rehabilitation program he had planned for the midfielder.

Beckham, who flew to the Mehilainen Clinic in Turku on Monday, was joined a day later by his wife, Victoria who also spent the night at the clinic.

Orava said they ordered pizzas and watched football on a large-screen TV on Tuesday evening but that he left the couple just as the Champions League match between Chelsea and Inter Milan started.

"They looked happy," he said.

Orava, who has operated on several international sports stars, including runners Frank Fredericks, Merlene Ottey and Haile Gebreselassie, said Beckham was an exemplary patient.

"He was a very easy and good patient. Even the nurses said they wished that all their patients were like him," Orava said. "He was very satisfied and didn't complain about anything and thanked everyone."

Orava said Beckham's tendon was totally torn, ruling out his hopes of playing in his fourth World Cup. The tournament starts June 11 in South Africa.

AC Milan said Beckham would begin rehabilitation right away.

"The plan includes a complete recovery in six months, at the end of which he can play again," the club said.