BERLIN: The German Football Association (DFB) have defended team doctor Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt’s decision to perform ankle surgery on captain Michael Ballack, saying he risked serious injury without immediate treatment.
“Our team doctor said that an immediate operation was unavoidable and urgently needed,” DFB spokesman Harald Stenger said on the DFB website (www.dfb.de).
British media have criticised the timing of the operation that has deprived Chelsea of Ballack in the run-in to the end of the season with the club chasing three more trophies.
“Any training or playing could have led to an aggravation and even endangered Ballack’s career,” said Stenger.
British media suggested Ballack chose to have the surgery without first consulting Chelsea officials, but Stenger added: “Dr Mueller-Wohlfahrt said he informed both Chelsea doctors in a telephone conversation and explained to them why an immediate operation was needed.”
Ballack injured his ankle against Newcastle United in a Premier League game on April 22 and missed the first leg of the Champions League semi-final at home to Liverpool, which Chelsea won 1-0, and Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Bolton Wanderers.
He said he flew to Munich to see Mueller-Wohlfahrt – the Germany team doctor as well as his doctor at former club Bayern Munich over the last four years – for a second opinion after there was no improvement for four days.
In an interview with German sports news agency SID, Ballack on Monday dismissed the criticism and said suggestions in the media that the DFB doctor wanted to ensure he would be ready for Germany’s European Championship qualifiers in June was absurd.
“It’s absolute nonsense and truly ridiculous to see any connection between this operation and international matches in June,” Ballack said.
“No footballer in the world would risk missing an FA Cup final against Manchester (United), a Champions League semi-final against Liverpool and possibly a final, for a Euro qualifier against San Marino.
“I didn’t undergo this surgery for fun and I would much rather be with the team on the pitch against Liverpool,” he added ahead of the second leg at Anfield on Tuesday.
“I’m still hoping to have the possibility to play in the Champions League final and to be able to help out down the stretch in the Premier League.” – Reuters