Cannavaro vows to stay with squad
Cannavaro has changed his mind about retiring from international football
Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro has been ruled out of Euro 2008 after tearing ligaments in his left ankle.
The Real Madrid defender suffered the injury when he collided with Giorgio Chiellini in a practice match at Italy’s base in Austria on Monday.
The 34-year-old has decided to remain with the squad to provide support for his team-mates.
“It’s my last chance to experience a Euro. I’ll be an ordinary spectator but I hope to be useful,” he said.
“I’ve asked the coach to stay on with the team. It seems right to me after two years working together.”
Cannavaro added that the injury has caused him to change his plans to retire from international football after the tournament.
He said he is now more determined than ever to captain Italy during their World Cup title defence in 2010.
“You’ll have to put up with me for another two years,” he told a news conference. “For me this accident is a challenge, to be able to return to the highest level.
“I had planned to stop after the Euro, but now my challenge is to reach the 2010 World Cup. I have no fears for my career.”
You’ll have to put up with me for another two years
Cannavaro is hoping to undergo surgery as early as Wednesday in Vienna, enabling him to be able to rejoin the team and begin his physiotherapy as quickly as possible.
Italy team doctor Andrea Ferretti said the centre-back would be out of action for “several months”.
After the incident, Cannavaro lay on the pitch for about 20 minutes before being stretchered off.
But he said there was no blame for the injury on Chiellini, who was said to be devastated after the incident.
“I comforted him. He was broken. I told him that it wasn’t his fault. We lost a player it’s not worth losing a second,” said Cannavaro.
Fiorentina’s Alessandro Gamberini has been called up as his replacement, with goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon likely to take over the captaincy.
Italy had been in Austria for just six hours when Cannavaro suffered his injury.
A statement issued by the Italian Football Federation said: “The news we feared was confirmed in Baden late on Monday evening.
“Fabio Cannavaro will say goodbye to our European adventure, before it has even begun.
“The captain has suffered torn ligaments, which happened the moment his foot made contact with the ground. His ankle twisted awkwardly.”
Cannavaro, who has 116 caps, skippered Italy to 2006 World Cup glory in Germany, winning the World Player of the Year award.
His absence is a serious setback for Italy, who are in Euro 2008’s ‘Group of Death’ with France, the Netherlands and dark horses Romania.
However, the emergence of centre-back Andrea Barzagli, who has produced some assured displays for Italy in the last year, will slightly cushion the blow.
Defender Marco Materazzi is also in the squad while Chiellini and Christian Panucci can play at centre-back rather than full-back.
Italy open their campaign against the Dutch on Monday 9 June in Berne.