Football: Final irony as Juninho is out until June

Juninho is almost certain to miss the World Cup after breaking his leg playing for Atletico Madrid on Sunday. Elizabeth Nash saw the Brazilian recovering in hospital yesterday.

Juninho lay back in intensive care at a private hospital outside the Spanish capital yesterday looking half his 24 years. He moved his head vaguely and made circling movements with his hand to indicate he still felt groggy after an operation had left him with a steel plate and five screws in his left leg.

Pedro Guillen, an orthopaedic surgeon, operated on the Brazilian's fractured tibia and twisted knee ligaments yesterday. He said it would be five months before the player would kick a ball again. "He'll stay here two days, then he'll be able to walk with crutches, then it'll be six to eight weeks before he can put the foot on the ground."

Juninho will not play again this season in the Spanish league and his injury puts into serious doubt his participation in the World Cup, which starts in June.

It is a huge setback in the career of the Brazilian midfielder, who had set his heart on winning a place in his country's World Cup team. One of the major reasons he left Middlesbrough for Atletico Madrid last summer was the fact that Spanish league games are televised in Brazil: he hoped that his performances would keep him in the public eye back home.

Juninho's mother, Lucia, and his father, Osvaldo, who were with their son both before and after the operation, tried to remain optimistic. "My mother's instinct tells me he'll play in the World Cup," Lucia said. "It's what we all want and he has great powers of recovery and enormous willpower."

Juninho was conscious in the early stages of the operation yesterday afternoon, having received an epidural that anaesthetised him from the waist down. While under the knife he told the surgeons about his great disappointment at letting down Atletico - who face Aston Villa in a Uefa Cup match next month without him - and especially of his fear of missing the World Cup. But then the footballer became disturbed by the fearful cracking of bones as the operation progressed and he requested a sedative to knock him out.

After the operation the player slept for some hours, tranquillised against the pain. From time to time he gave a faint smile through the glass screen of the intensive care unit and a thumbs up sign.

Juninho suffered the injury in a tackle by Celta Vigo's Michael Salgado, who was subsequently booked and admitted he was lucky not to be sent off. However, Osvaldo said his son bore no ill will against Salgado.

Lazaro Albarraicin, Atletico's vice-president, who had come to see Juninho, told me: "Nothing like this ever happened to him in England, even though you have the reputation of being a nation of hard players. But British footballers are noble."

Osvaldo tapped me gently on the sleeve. "He won't be talking to anybody today, I'm sorry," he said as the still semi-conscious Juninho was wheeled along the corridor back to his room, encouraged by a number of other injured sportsmen who hobbled to watch his progress. But he had eyes only for his mum.

l Ciro Ferrara, a key figure in Italy's defence, is almost certain to miss the World Cup after breaking his leg playing for Juventus at Lecce on Sunday.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Games Developer - HTML5

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£26000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Product Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to on-going expansion, this leading provid...

Recruitment Genius: Shift Leaders - Front of House Staff - Full Time and Part Time

£6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a family ...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'