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Defiant Beckham says he will return after Achilles surgery

David Beckham shows the scars of battle on Monday as he heads to Finland for Achilles surgery.
David Beckham shows the scars of battle on Monday as he heads to Finland for Achilles surgery.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • David Beckham vows to battle back to "full fitness" after Achilles surgery
  • Beckham has been ruled out of the World Cup with England with the injury
  • Finnish surgeon says Beckham is making a good recovery after operation
  • Former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham has arrived in Finland to be with her husband

(CNN) -- Sporting icon David Beckham has vowed to battle back to "full fitness" after having surgery to repair his ruptured Achilles tendon.

The injury has shattered Beckham's hopes of playing for England in his fourth World Cup finals and left many to doubt that the former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder would ever play at the top level again.

But the 34-year-old was typically upbeat on Tuesday as he gave his first reaction in a statement on his personal Web site.

"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their messages of support, they mean a lot to me," he said.

"The operation was a success and I'd like to thank Dr Orava and all the medical staff who looked after me during my time in Finland.

Video: The impact of Beckham's injury
I'm feeling positive and now concentrating on getting back to full fitness over the coming months
--David Beckham
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"I'm feeling positive and now concentrating on getting back to full fitness over the coming months."

Beckham, who is on loan with AC Milan in Italy from the Los Angeles Galaxy, limped off during the Serie A side's home match against Chievo on Sunday.

He was clearly in distress and it quickly became clear he had sustained a serious injury.

How serious is Beckham's injury?

Beckham flew to Turku in Finland to be operated on by leading orthopedic surgeon Sakari Orava.

He told AFP that Beckham would make a good recovery, but that his leg would be in a cast for about three months, definitely ruling him out of South Africa 2010.

"The patient is doing well and is in good spirits," Orava said.

"Today (Tuesday), we will practice walking with crutches."

Beckham's wife, Victoria Beckham has also arrived in Turku to visit her husband, Finnish media reported.

He is likely to stay in Finland until Wednesday before flying home to Los Angeles, Orava said.

"What does Beckham's injury mean to the World Cup?

Beckham is targeting a return to action in Major League Soccer (MLS) with the Galaxy, having helped them to the finals of last year's playoffs.

He went for a second, and now ill-fated, loan spell with Milan in a bid to keep his place in Fabio Capello's squad for South Africa, with every indication he would add to his record 115 international caps for an outfield player.

Beckham received a hero's welcome when he returned to play a Champions League knockout tie against his old Manchester United teammates last week, although the match, in which he appeared as a late substitute, ended in a heavy defeat.

Blog: Beckham's career -- they think it's all over

But Milan's performances in the Italian league, with Beckham playing his part, have been more impressive and Sunday's eventual 1-0 win over Chievo left them hot on the heels of arch-rivals and defending champions Inter Milan in the title race.

But Beckham's untimely injury will mean he will also miss the chance to win a championship in a third different country, having claimed glory with United and Real in England and Spain.

He will have been heartened by an upbeat message from Capello about his future England prospects, but Beckham will be 36 by the time of their next major tournament after the World Cup, assuming they qualify for Euro 2012.

Had he joined the likes Wayne Rooney and younger teammates, Beckham would have become the first Englishman to play in four World Cup finals.