MILAN, Italy -- Brazilian striker Ronaldo arrived in Paris on Thursday for an operation to repair the ruptured tendon in his left knee fearing the injury could end his career.
Ronaldo leaves the field in agony after suffering his latest injury blow.
The three-time FIFA world player of the year was injured in AC Milan's 1-1 draw with Livorno in the Serie A on Wednesday.
As his car pulled up to Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital, Ronaldo sat in the back seat with his leg in a brace and an ice pack on his knee.
"He fears for his career," Milan president Silvio Berlusconi told Italian state RAI TV. "I called him last evening and told him to believe in himself. He has enormous physical potential.
"As a 31-year-old, he's very young," Berlusconi said. "He has an extraordinary physique, and I think within a few months he could return to being the champion that we all know him as."
This latest injury occurred two minutes after Ronaldo entered the game during a play that earned Milan an equalizing penalty. The Brazilian was carried off the field crying.
In Paris, Ronaldo was to see Gerard Saillant, the same surgeon who treated him for a similar injury to his right knee in 2000.
Saillant told The Associated Press that the operation was to be carried out by Eric Rolland, his successor. He said that he would assist in the surgery.
"It appears that it is the same injury that he had previously. If this is the case, an operation is obligatory," Saillant said.
After the previous operation, Ronaldo needed more than a year to return to competition.
"Considering his age, with eight more years on him, it is hard to say when he could return to play," Saillant added.
Brazilian soccer champion Sao Paulo said Thursday it would make its physiotherapy center available to Ronaldo, the star of Brazil's 2002 World Cup champions.
"I called him yesterday to wish him good luck and put myself at his disposal," striker Adriano said on Sao Paulo's Web site. "At times like this it's important to have the support of your family and friends."
Ronaldo has battled serious injuries throughout his career, and has played sparingly since joining Milan from Real Madrid in January 2007.
Wednesday's match was only his fifth in Serie A this season after injuring his thigh during preseason training on July 31. He returned in November, but has been on and off the roster due to a series of recurring problems. E-mail to a friend