Sidelined in 2003-04 season for depression, new knee injury shatters Sebastian Diesler’s world cup hopes

Germany midfielder Sebastian Deisler will miss the World Cup because of a knee injury, the German Football Association (DFB) said on Saturday. An arthroscopy performed in the United States showed the 26-year-old needs knee surgery and will be out of action for six months. “This is a shock for us and a tragedy for him,” said assistant Germany coach Joachim Loew. “He’s such an important player for us.” One of few truly creative players in Germany and a great crosser of the ball, Deisler would have been an automatic choice. His injury will be a terrible blow to national coach Juergen Klinsmann’s World Cup prospects. “He played an important role in my World Cup plans but now it’s over,” said Klinsmann.

Deisler was one of the outstanding players in the Germany side that reached the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup last June and Klinsmann was pinning hopes of the midfield pairing of him and Michael Ballack at the June 9-July 9 finals. The frail Deisler has had four operations on his right knee, one of which meant he missed the 2002 World Cup. He sustained the latest injury in a clash with England midfielder Owen Hargreaves in Bayern training on Tuesday. The operation will be performed by American knee specialist Richard Steadman at his clinic in Vail, Colorado. Deisler should be back in Germany in about a week.

UNIQUE TALENT

“This is a big loss for Bayern and for Germany,” said Bayern commercial manager Uli Hoeness. Deisler was hailed as a unique talent when he was a teenager but his promising career has been hobbled by injury. He was sidelined for five months in the 2003-04 season while being treated for depression. His doctor said at the time that pressure to live up to expectations and the fight against injuries, as well as private problems, had taken their toll.

An introvert off the pitch, Deisler was approached by Real Madrid at 17. After making his Bundesliga debut as an 18-year-old with Borussia Moenchengladbach in 1998, Deisler played for Germany for the first time two years later and looked set for even greater things when he joined Bayern from Hertha Berlin in July 2002. His skills and ability to read the game suggested he could become a special player but his body was already letting him down. He hardly played at all during his first season at Bayern because of fitness worries. Then came his fight against depression, which he won. A happier man since the birth of his son, Raphael, in 2004, he was looking forward to playing his first World Cup. He now has to wait until 2010.