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FOOTBALL

Adler ruled out of World Cup with broken ribs

Germany goalkeeper Rene Adler was on Tuesday ruled out of next month's World Cup in South Africa as he is set to undergo an operation to repair damaged ribs.

Adler ruled out of World Cup with broken ribs
Photo: DPA

“This was the toughest decision of my life,” said the 25-year-old Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper in a statement. “But it would have been simply irresponsible of me, my club and the national team to have participated in the World Cup.”

Adler said there was nothing medically keeping him from playing.

“But the pain is so great that I would not have been able to perform at my best over the longer term both in training and during matches,” he said. “In such a long and intensive tournament, that is unacceptable. You need players who are totally fit.”

Having missed the last few weeks with the rib injury, Adler returned on Saturday for Leverkusen in their 1-1 draw with Hertha Berlin.

But an examination by Germany team doctor Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt has revealed the injury is worse than first thought.

He has already suffered a complicated rib injury which needed a titanium plate and four screws to repair in 2006, which nearly ended his career.

Germany coach Joachim Löw is set to name his World Cup squad on Thursday.

“Of course, we are very sorry that Rene will now be operated on, but he has

to have the procedure,” said Löw.

“The coaching team will now meet to discuss who will replace Rene in travelling to South Africa and we will announce our nomination in Stuttgart on Thursday.”

Former Germany striker Rudi Völler said Adler’s injury is a bitter blow for the national team.

“I feel incredibly sorry for Rene,” said Leverkusen’s director of sport Völler. “His great World Cup dream has burst, but now we must accept the doctor’s decision. “I hope and firmly believe that Rene will be between the posts for Germany’s next major tournament.”

With Adler ruled out, Schalke 04’s Manuel Neuer is set to take his place in goal for Germany’s opening World Cup match in Group D against Australia on June 13 with Werder Bremen’s Tim Wiese also travelling.

Löw had been set to take three goalkeepers to South Africa, meaning Bayern Munich

veteran Hans-Jörg Butt could be set for a surprise recall nearly seven years

after winning the last of his three caps for Germany. Dortmund’s Roman Weidenfeller could also be an option.

Germany face warm-up matches against Malta on May 13 in Aachen, Hungary in Budapest on May 29 and Bosnia-Herzegovina in Frankfurt on June 3.

They have drawn Australia, Ghana and Serbia in Group 4 of the World Cup as they bid to win the title for the fourth time.

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FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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