Australia's Ivan Franjic said he is heading home to start his recovery after a hamstring injury ended his FIFA World Cup™ after just 50 minutes. The Brisbane Roar defender set up Tim Cahill for Australia's goal in their 3-1 defeat against Chile but tore his left hamstring when leaping for the ball after half-time.
Fellow defender Alex Wilkinson voiced fears that the injury could be career-threatening but Franjic said he was aiming to be fit for the upcoming A-League season and Asian Cup.
"You work so hard to get to a World Cup and 50 minutes into a World Cup, your dream is over," the 26-year-old told media. "It's disappointing but the boys have my full support and I'll be backing them 100 percent of the way."
He added: "I knew something went when I jumped in the air and I felt the hamstring give a slight twinge. I thought there was a glimmer of hope that it could be only a grade one (tear) and I could be back in seven to 10 days. But when I woke up in the morning I knew my World Cup was over."
You work so hard to get to a World Cup and 50 minutes into a World Cup, your dream is over.
Franjic had raced to be fit for the Socceroos' Group B opener on Friday after injuring his knee in last month's friendly against South Africa. He said support had been "overwhelming" and revealed that Cahill, whose goal made him one of the few men to score at three straight World Cups, had asked him to stay in Brazil.
"He [Tim Cahill] wanted me to stay, but he said 'you've helped me create history'," revealed Franjic."Obviously him scoring in the third World Cup straight is something big and not many players have done it."
Wilkinson said Franjic's team-mates were "all really, really disappointed" for him.
He said: "The boss told us last night that you've got to treat every moment at the World Cup like it's your last. For someone like Ivan, through no fault of his own that's his last game and that could be it for him, who knows?"
But Franjic revealed a pep talk from Australia coach Ange Postecoglou had made him hungrier than ever to recover. He said: "I'm going to go back and make sure my body's right for the upcoming season and make sure I'm ready for the Asian Cup if I get the opportunity to play."