Just about everyone outside of Ivory Coast, Greece and Japan is rooting for Radamel Falcao.
The Colombian striker tore his ACL on Wednesday, putting his prospects of playing for his country at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in serious jeopardy.
It was initially thought that the injury would rule Falcao out of this summer’s tournament, but the doctor who performed the operation to graft a tendon onto his knee Saturday is giving him “50-50 chance” of recovering in time for Colombia’s first World Cup game (against Greece on June 14), according to the Associated Press.
“It went well,” Dr. Jose Carlos Noronha said. “The light at the end of the tunnel isn’t small.
“There’s a possibility of him going to the tournament.
“It’s not out of the question.”
However, Noronha reportedly said Falcao “can’t rush his recovery.”
Falcao was reportedly in good spirits after the ACL surgery. He was smiling in a photo taken after the surgery, which his club, France’s AS Monaco, hailed as a success.
ASM FC - OFFICIEL (@ASMFC_MONACO) January 25, 2014
Nicknamed, “El Tigre” (or “the Tiger”), Falcao is one of world soccer’s premier goal scorers.
Colombia prays that Falcao makes a swift recovery, as the 27-year-old hitman was expected to fire Colombia past Ivory Coast, Greece and Japan in the group stage en route to a potentially deep run at the World Cup.
Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, visited Falcao at Trindade hospital in Porto, Portugal on Saturday. After calling Falcao a “symbol” of the national team (he scored 20 goals in 51 games), Santos said the nation’s favorite son remained hopeful that he would be able to play in Brazil.
“He’s in good spirits, he’s very optimistic,” Santos said.
Falcao has received messages of support from around the world in recent days, and terms like “#FuerzaFalcao” and “#FuerzaTigre” have reached trending status on the Internet.
Two of Falcao’s former clubs, Argentina’s River Plate (top) and Spain’s Atletico Madrid (bottom) paid tribute to the stricken star before recent games.
River Plate Oficial (@CARPoficial) January 26, 2014
Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) January 23, 2014
Monaco’s players wore T-shirts bearing messages of encouragement to Falcao before their game against Marseille on Sunday.
ASM FC - OFFICIEL (@ASMFC_MONACO) January 26, 2014
Falcao watched the scene live from his hospital bed.
Desde Porto viendo al equipo, gracias por la fuerza que me dan, yo estoy acá a darles la mía!! http://t.co/nrHCeHxAge—
Radamel Falcao (@FALCAO) January 26, 2014
Meanhwile, Falcao used Twitter to reach out to Soner Ertek — the French amateur player whose tackle caused the ACL injury. He thanked Ertek for his messages and said “don’t blame yourself for what happened — these are soccer accidents.”
Soner Ertek gracias por tus mensajes. No te culpes por lo sucedido son accidentes del fútbol.—
Radamel Falcao (@FALCAO) January 25, 2014
With just a few months to go before the World Cup, most fans should spare a thought for Falcao and hope he makes a miraculous recovery. After all, he’s one of the game’s brightest stars, and we want to see players of his stature grace world soccer’s biggest stage — especially when they are in their prime.
It usually takes more than six months for a professional soccer player to recover form a torn ACL. Do you think Falcao will win his race against time? Vote now.