Milan: Inter Milan captain Javier Zanetti ruptured his Achilles' tendon during the 1-0 loss at Palermo on Sunday, the latest mishap in a season coach Andrea Stramaccioni has described as cursed.
Italian media speculated that the Argentine - 40 in August - could be out for up to eight months and that, considering his age, the injury could even spell the end of his career.
Zanetti, who is two years older than his coach, dismissed the notion telling Inter's website (www.inter.it): "My aim is to return stronger than before. I have to change tyres after many kilometres.
"We will decide when to operate. They haven't told me a recovery time but my career is certainly not over, the important thing is to get better."
Zanetti was speaking after having a scan near Milan which confirmed the rupture.
"It's a big blow and we really didn't need this injury to Javier," Stramaccioni said earlier. Losing him today certainly hurts us in a very difficult moment."
The remarkably consistent Zanetti has made more than 800 appearances for Inter, including over 600 in Serie A, since joining the club from Banfield in 1995 and has never before suffered a serious injury.
He has won five Serie A titles, four Italian Cups, one Champions League, one UEFA Cup and one Club World Cup and is also Argentina's most capped player.
"I felt a pull at one point, I'm not sure if anyone touched me, and it really hurt," Zanetti told Mediaset Premium. "I will overcome this as well."
Inter have suffered a string of injuries in the last few weeks and were missing Rodrigo Palacio, Diego Milito, Walter Samuel, Antonio Cassano, Walter Gargano and Fredy Guarin for the trip to Sicily. In the last few weeks, Stramaccioni's team have dropped to seventh in Serie A, ending their hopes of Champions League football next season, been knocked out of the Europa League by Tottenham Hotspur and been beaten by AS Roma in the Italian Cup semi-final.
"It's a curse," agreed defender Andrea Ranocchia, who took the armband from Zanetti in the 17th minute. "We seem to be losing two players a game. It's just incredible. With the misfortune that we have been suffering, we just have to give more. We have four games to go and we're in an emergency."