Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro was ruled out of the upcoming Euro 2008 championships on Monday after suffering a left ankle injury according to Ansa press agency.
The replacement for the 34-year-old Real Madrid defender – capped 116 times – will be announced soon, the Italian Football Federation informed Ansa.
Cannavaro – who will hold a press conference on Tuesday – suffered the injury during a training session at their Austrian base, just hours after Italy arrived in the country.
He underwent scans at a hospital in Modling, 15 kilometres south of Vienna, after colliding with Giorgio Chiellini during the practice match and was subsequently transferred to another hospital in Vienna.
Cannavaro underwent an MRI scan, after which the doctor Franz Maria Kainberger, who was interviewed by Ansa, said the centre-back had suffered a double sprain of his ankle and that an operation might be needed.
The centre-back left the hospital during the evening and went back to Italy’s hotel in Baden to rejoin his team-mates.
Cannavaro, who led Italy to the World Cup title in 2006, had been prone on the ground for around 20 minutes and carried off on a stretcher.
He has been replaced by Fiorentina’s 26-year-old defensive rock Alessandro Gamberini.
Gamberini, who has been capped twice, was outstanding for ‘The Viola’ this season as they grabbed the fourth and last place for next season’s Champions League – fending off AC Milan – and reached the UEFA Cup semi-finals.
Cannavaro’s absence is a serious blow to Italy, who are in the ‘Group of Death’ with 2006 World Cup finalists France, Holland and dark horses Romania.
In 2006, when he captained Italy to World Cup glory in Germany, he was the star of their team and later that year won the World Player of the Year award.
Cannavaro, who is from Naples, started his career at Napoli before moving on to Parma, where he made his name as one of his country’s finest centre-backs despite his small stature – he is just 5ft 9.5in tall.
With Liliam Thuram as a defensive partner and Gianluigi Buffon in goal, Cannavaro was part of one of the best defences in Serie A and Parma won the Italian Cup and UEFA Cup.
His fine form earnt him a 23 million euro move to Inter Milan in 2002 and then two years later he was bought by Juventus where he won the title in his two seasons there, only to be stripped of them when Juve were penalised for match-fixing.
As Juve were relegated, Cannavaro moved to Madrid after the World Cup and helped them end a three-year title drought.
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