Colombia star Radamel Falcao, who led his team with nine goals in World Cup qualifying, was left out of their final 23-man squad going to Brazil. Falcao was pushing his recovery from ACL surgery in January that ended his season with Monaco after joining from Atletico Madrid for €60 million in a desperate bid to try and make it back in time for the World Cup.
"I'm not going to deny that my sadness is huge, my heart is broken, but I'm clinging to the smallest hope, and that's enough to think that my World Cup dream is still alive," he wrote to fans after sustaining the injury. But during the somber press conference to announce Colombia's final squad, Falcao revealed that he told manager Jose Pekerman not to select him so as not to take a roster spot away from one of his teammates who is more fit.
Falcao: "I'm still not ready and I didn't want to take a place away from one of my teammates who was 100% fit."— Carl Worswick (@cworswick) June 2, 2014
Falcao probably could have talked his way onto the team as the country's undisputed top player, putting Pekerman in the difficult spot of having to decide whether to test his knee in matches with no room for error after a five-month layoff. Instead, Falcao was honest with himself and his team and says he will still travel with them to Brazil to cheer them on. (Full Colombia squad here.)
Italy midfielder Romulo did something similar by convincing manager Cesare Prandelli not to include him in the World Cup squad due to an injury of his own.
From Football Italia:
“Prandelli had included me in the 23,” Romulo is today quoted by the Corriere della Sera.
“I told him that I was at 70 per cent, it did not seem right that a teammate would sit out whilst being fine.”
Not many people would willingly give up the ultimate dream they've worked their whole lives for, but both players' ability to see past their emotions and recognize the greater good is admirable.
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