Beckham buoyant after successful surgery

HELSINK - David Beckham said he was looking forward to returning to full fitness as soon as possible after spending a second day at a Finnish hospital where he underwent surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon.

Monday's operation was deemed a success but the England winger's hopes of playing in June's World Cup in South Africa look over.

"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their messages of support, they mean a lot to me," Beckham, England's most capped outfield player with 115 appearances, said in a statement on his website on Tuesday.

"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. I'm feeling positive and now concentrating on getting back to full fitness over the coming months."

The small Finnish seaport city of Turku has turned into an international media circus because of the 34-year-old's visit to top specialist Dr. Sakari Orava.

Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat wrote: "The centre of the world: Turku" in its Tuesday edition. "Superstar David Beckham's surgery turned eyes to Finland."

Beckham, who suffered the injury in AC Milan's 1-0 win over Chievo on Sunday, was the perfect patient, Orava said.

"(His mood) was pretty good ... he was smiling and there was no pain. He was really happy," Orava told Reuters.

"He's a nice patient, he's very satisfied with everything, behaves well and doesn't complain."

Orava, who has been operating on top athletes such as Haile Gebrselassie, Josep Guardiola and Merlene Ottey for the past 25 years, told Reuters on Monday Beckham would likely miss the World Cup due to the injury.

With his foot to be kept in a cast for 6-8 weeks, Beckham is unlikely to regain full fitness ahead of the tournament, which begins on June 11. He had been bidding to play in a fourth World Cup.

Such is Beckham's status in Britain that even Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he had written to wish him a speedy recovery.

Beckham's visit put Finnish media into overdrive in this small Nordic country, which is more known for its love of ice hockey and winter sports than soccer.

"The Drama named David Beckham" tabloid Iltalehti wrote.

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