Bobby Zamora has admitted he was forced to put the national interest ahead of personal glory when he made the agonising decision to remove himself from contention for England's 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ squad. The Fulham striker was enjoying a stunning season, which had thrust him into Fabio Capello's plans, until he suffered an Achilles injury last month.
The Italian had intended to include Zamora in his provisional 30-man squad for the world finals, with the player on course to make his England debut against Mexico on 24 May. But knowing that he required pain-killing injections to play, the 29-year-old was forced to concede that he would not recover in time and told Capello.
Zamora limped through 54 minutes of last night's 2-1 UEFA Europa League final defeat by Atletico Madrid in his last game of the season. "I told Fabio that I was struggling and I knew that, had I gone, I wouldn't have done myself or England justice," he said.
"Capello wished me all the best, hoped that I get fit and would be available next season. You could see last night I was struggling to play."
Zamora admits the end of his FIFA World Cup ambitions is hard to stomach. "It's one of those things, it's come at a bad time and the last five weeks have been terrible for me," he explained.
"It's been an up and down season because it's been so good on the pitch and I've scored some important goals. To now pick up this injury has kicked me in the teeth.
"It's come during the last couple of weeks and when there was the possibility of going to the World Cup with England. That's football, it's a cruel game. Just look at us losing this final in the last couple of minutes."
Zamora was clearly off the pace at the Hamburg Arena and expects to go under the surgeon's knife next week. "I was struggling but I was desperate to play," he said.
"It was touch and go for me to make the final but it's a major tournament and I've worked all season to get there so I wanted to play some part. I was disappointed to come off but it was the right decision to get some fresh legs on.
"I'm going to weigh everything up with the medical team now but it looks like I might need a minor operation. The decision will be made over the next day or two, but the operation is pencilled in for a week's time."