Not for Michael Ballack. Not for the German national team.
Chelsea's Der Kaiser - at times - was ruled of the upcoming World Cup in South Africa with ankle ligament damage sustained during Saturday's FA Cup Final win. Portsmouth midfielder Kevin Prince-Boateng was the culprit, his ridiculous challenge during the first half decimating the German captain - and potentially the national team's - Cup dream.
The 33-year-old German captain has a tear of the medial collateral ligament in his right ankle. He faces a minimum of eight weeks out before he can return to training.
"It's bitter to get a diagnosis like that before the World Cup," said Ballack, a cap short of his 100th for the country. "There's naturally a lot of disappointment. But that's football. Life goes on."
Germany coach Joachim Löw said: "Of course we are shocked. The loss of Michael Ballack is serious. It is not an easy situation for Michael and for us all. We are all very, very sad that such an important player, our captain, who is a true world‑class player, has been ruled out. He is deeply disappointed. He put all his energy and power into playing in this World Cup."
It's not the first time Boateng, of German-Ghanaian heritage, has drew the ire of ze Germans. Just this year, after representing Germany at the Under-21 level, he re-aligned himself with Ghana. His brother, Jerome, on the cusp of becoming a Manchester City player, still represents Germany. Tisk tisk.
Boteng's father, Prince, told the Hamburg Morning Post: "Kevin’s the whipping boy again. It’s always twice as bad when anything happens with a Boateng. It upsets me a lot. But you have to look at the whole story. (In 2006) Kevin had just scored his first goal for Hertha (Berlin). Then they played Bayern Munich. He had an argument with Ballack.
"Ballack said to him, 'You’ve scored one goal, and you think you are the best!' Kevin has never forgotten. Unfortunately, Kevin isn’t diplomatic. But I am sure, even if he did foul Ballack, he didn’t mean to injure him."
Nice to know.
From the Daily Mail: Former World Cup winner and Germany coach Rudi Voller said Ballack was ‘irreplaceable’ and Pierre Littbarski, another member of West Germany’s victorious 1990 side, said the injury was an ‘absolute catastrophe.’
I must agree. Ballack has cut a polarizing figure since his move from Bayern Munich to Chelsea. But there is little denying his influence. When he is in the Chelsea side, we usually win; when he's not ... Unlike with the Blues, however, there is no way to quantify his contribution to the national team. He is the German national team.
Of course, we here at the Chelsea Offside wish Ballack a rapid, and safe, recovery.