Alexa

Switzerland striker Frei leaves European Championship opener in tears following injury

Switzerland striker Frei leaves European Championship opener in tears following injury

Alexander Frei's tears said it all.
The Switzerland captain and record scorer who battled to get healthy for the European Championship lasted only one half of the tournament's opening match.
Fouled from behind, he damaged ligaments in his left knee and immediately started sobbing. The 28-year-old striker must have known that his match _ and probably his tournament _ was over.
"It's a disaster, of course, to lose our captain in the first game the way we did," said Switzerland coach Koebi Kuhn, who thought Frei might have torn a cruciate ligament.
The tears were reminiscent of Paul Gascoigne's when he received a yellow card in the 1990 World Cup and realized he wouldn't have played in the final had England advanced. But this time the pain was also physical.
Frei was down for several minutes, then slowly walked off the field, a trainer on each side holding him, tears streaming down his face. After going to the bench, Frei walked half the length of the field, again with a trainer at each side, and made his way to the tunnel. He was replaced by Hakan Yakin when the second half began, but returned on crutches to watch.
Frei went directly form the match to have tests done on his knee, and did not speak to journalists. But his teammates expressed their disappointment.
"Alex is our most important player," midfielder Benjamin Huggel said.
And he might not be back anytime soon.
"I think we've lost Frei for quite a while," defender Patrick Mueller said.
A forward with Borussia Dortmund, Frei missed much of the Bundesliga season because of injuries. He has had a hip operation, two muscle tears and a calf injury in the last 13 months, but had battled back in recent weeks to full fitness.
He became Switzerland's leading scorer on May 30 when he had two goals against Liechtenstein, passing Kubilay Turkyilmaz. He now has 35 goals in 60 international appearances.
Zdenek Grygera, whose foul caused the injury, said he felt sorry for Frei.
"I was trying to hit the ball," the 28-year-old Juventus defender said. "It was an unlucky moment."
Jan Koller, the Czech Republic's all-time scoring leader and a former teammate of Frei's in Dortmund, missed most of the 2005-06 season with a knee injury. He scored the first goal of the Czech Republic's opening 3-0 win over the United States at the 2006 World Cup, then got hurt later in the match and missed the rest of the tournament.
"It seems to be serious," Koller said. "I'm sorry for him. I know what it's like to be injured, and wish him as quick a recovery as possible."


Updated : 2021-04-17 11:28 GMT+08:00