LONDON David Beckham arrived in England on Wednesday to start his recovery from an Achilles tendon injury that appears certain to rule him out of the World Cup finals.
"He's in London for the next few days, then he will travel to Los Angeles to continue his recuperation," said Beckham's spokesman Simon Oliveira.
The 34-year-old midfielder tore the tendon in AC Milan's 1-0 win over Chievo on Sunday and flew to Finland for surgery performed by one of the world's top specialists
"He is recovering fine, he has been walking with crutches. He can move around a little bit more every day," doctor Sakari Orava told Reuters before the player left the western Finnish city of Turku. "(His recovery) is as expected.
"I said maybe it is not wise to fly over the Atlantic right now, to stay somewhere for two-three days," Orava added. "But the risk is small."
Former England captain Beckham thanked everyone for their messages of support in a statement on his website (www.davidbeckham.com).
"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," he said.
"I'm feeling positive and now concentrating on getting back to full fitness over the coming months."
Despite the surgery being hailed as a success, Beckham has all but been ruled out of the World Cup starting in South Africa on June 11 and FIFA president Sepp Blatter expressed his sympathy in a letter to the player.
Wishing him a speedy recovery, Blatter said he was sure Beckham would "get through this tough situation with your trademark dignity and courage."
Milan said on their website that Beckham's rehabilitation plan had been drawn up and would start immediately.
"For the first two weeks the footballer must not put pressure on the injured limb, and then he will do so progressively and partially for six weeks before doing specific therapy in the swimming pool," the club said.
"The plan foresees a complete recovery in six months, after which he will be able to play again."
(Reporting by Brett Young in Helsinki and Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Clare Fallon)