David Beckham is recovering from surgery, joined by his wife in Finland and beginning a rehabilitation in which he is expected to be playing soccer again in six months.

Dr. Sakari Orava told The Associated Press that the 34-year-old midfielder was in “some pain” after Monday’s operation to repair a totally torn left Achilles’ tendon, but he was doing well and was to walk on crutches Tuesday.

“These walking exercises are the first day’s program after surgery,” Orava said. “After that he will get a detailed program for further rehabilitation, and then, (Wednesday) probably, he flies to London, and then to the U.S.”

Victoria Beckham arrived in a private jet at a snowy Turku airport on Tuesday. The former Spice Girls singer was taken to the clinic in a Volkswagen van with tinted windows.

Her husband was injured in the closing minutes of AC Milan’s 1-0 win over Chievo Verona on Sunday and is to miss the World Cup in South Africa in June. He was on his second loan to the Italian club from Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy.

Orava said Monday that he Beckham would have to take it “very easy” for up to a month. Orava also said it would be “four months to running” and another two months before the former England captain was likely to be back playing.

Added Beckham’s spokesman, Simon Oliveira: “David is expected to make a full recovery.”

AC Milan said Beckham will remain under observation for a few days.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown sent a get-well message to Beckham and praised his role as an ambassador for his sport.

“He emphasized what a tremendous ambassador Mr. Beckham is for English soccer and wishes him well in his recovery, as I think the whole nation does,” Brown spokesman Simon Lewis said.

The injury shattered Beckham’s hopes of becoming the first English player to appear in four World Cups and put his future on the national team in doubt. He will miss most of the MLS season.

“Injuries are an unfortunate part of our game and they are even more disappointing when they happen to a player who was so close to realizing his dream of representing his nation at this summer’s World Cup,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said Monday. “David remains an important player for the Galaxy and we look forward to welcoming him back to the club and assisting him in his recovery.”

With only a few minutes remaining in the Chievo game and the score 0-0, Beckham was by himself in the center circle when he took a pass with his left foot. He stepped back awkwardly, then stepped forward and started hopping on his right foot with an expression of pain on his face. Visibly in pain and in tears, Beckham went to the sideline for attention.

While Beckham has not been a starter for England recently, he was likely to make the World Cup squad. Beckham was still prized for his free kicks and crosses, especially when England needed second-half goals. And for many, he is the best-known soccer player in the world, a fashion icon with a celebrity wife.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star has made 115 international appearances, second in England history behind only goalkeeper Peter Shilton’s 125 from 1970-90.

Beckham is the MLS’ highest-paid player with a $32.5 million, five-year contract — and its biggest draw.


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