Few world soccer fans have heard Soner Ertek‘s name before, but they may come to know him as the man who kept Radamel Falcao out of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Ertek, a defender for French amatuer club Chasselay Monts d’or Azergues, tackled Falcao just before halftime of his team’s French Cup game against Monaco.
Falcao, who had already scored one goal in the game, clutched his left knee as he lay on the ground in pain. He was then stretchered off the field. The extent of Falcao’s knee injury is unknown at this point. Monaco said he will undergo tests in the coming days, according to the BBC.
“The player was hit in the left knee,” a Monaco statement said. “[We] must await further tests in the coming days to clarify the exact nature of the injury.”
The Guardian reports Monaco captain Jeremy Toulalan fears Falcao could face an extended absence.
“We lost Radamel Falcao,” Toulalan reportedly told Eurosport. “It’s a big blow. I think it is serious. The news is not reassuring.”
Monaco manager Claudio Ranieri blamed the referee for not doing enough to protect his star-studded team from the amateurs’ tackles.
“When you play against a team from a lower division, they are going to play really hard,” Ranieri said. “That’s normal, and that is what I tell my players before the match.
“But if Falcao has something serious, it is the referee’s fault.
“Everyone wants to play like in England and let the game go. It’s not possible here. The referee must see when there is a foul and blow his whistle.”
Monaco advanced to the French Cup quarterfinals thanks to the 3-0 win against Chasselay Monts d’or Azergues, but the principality-based club paid a heavy price.
Falcao, 27, is one of world soccer’s most feared strikers. He has scored 11 goals in 19 games (in all competitions) for Monaco since joining the club in an eye-popping, £50 million ($83 million) transfer from Atletico Madrid last summer. The club hopes he can fire it to the Ligue 1 (French first division) title this season and the UEFA Champions League title in subsequent campaigns.
Falcao may be even more important to Colombia than he is to Monaco. He has scored 20 goals in 51 national-team games, and his country hoped he would lead it deep into the knockout rounds of the World Cup.
If Falcao’s knee injury is a season-ending one, confirming Monaco and Colombia’s worst fears, Ertek will (fairly or unfairly) probably feel worse than he already does when the World Cup kicks off on June 12.
Amateur player who prompted Falcao injury, Soner Ertek, close to tears after match: 'If Falcao's season is over, I'll never forgive myself'—
Matt Spiro (@mattspiro) January 22, 2014
See Ertek’s tackle on Falcao in the video below.
Photo via Twitter/@FOXSoccer