Achilles tendon injury put Beckham out
The stage is set for the 19th football World Cup, which kicks-off on Friday, June 11.
While 32 teams will battle it out over a month for the game's biggest prize, some big football nations and celebrated footballers will be missing during the action in South Africa, either because of non-qualification/selection or injury.
Special Correspondent Manu Shankar lists some of the stars the beautiful game will certainly miss at the quadrennial extravaganza.
David Beckham's World Cup dream was shattered after he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon during AC Milan's match against Chievo at the San Siro.
Desperate to feature in Fabio Capello's England squad and play in a fourth World Cup finals, David Beckham, on loan from LA Galaxy, twisted his left ankle during the final minutes of the match.
As he was taken on the stretcher, he cried, saying, 'It's broken'. This probably would have been the last World Cup for England's poster boy.
The former England captain, however, is in South Africa. He flew in with the squad and will be part of manager Fabio Capello's backroom team.
Image: David Beckham
Germany without their Big 'B'
Michael Ballack is another big name to miss out after tearing ligaments in his right ankle.
The 33-year-old Germany captain was injured during Chelsea's 1-0 FA Cup final victory over Portsmouth. His ankle was in a cast, and he wasn't able to train for almost eight weeks.
The injury robbed Ballack, Germany's three-time player of the year, a final chance to win the World Cup after reaching the 2002 final and the 2006 semi-finals.
Ballack had missed the opening game of the 2006 World Cup in Germany because of a calf injury and didn't score in the tournament.
He had two ankle operations before Euro 2008 but injured a calf muscle before the final as well.
Image: Michael Ballack
Missing the 'trick'
Brazil coach Dunga sprang a major surprise when he announced that Ronaldinho would not be part of the 2010 World Cup squad.
A couple of World Cups ago, the 'magician' was at the top of his game, even eclipsing compatriot Ronaldo. However, to be honest, Ronaldinho never looked the same after the last World Cup. There was a slump in his form, though a successful season with AC Milan may have raised hopes of his return to the national side when he was named in Brazil's 30-man provisional squad.
Dunga knew well that the two-time world player of the year would not fit into his scheme of things. He is named as one of seven alternates for Brazil and could still play in the World Cup to replace an injured player.
No Orange for Nistelrooy
Another major star to miss the bus is the Netherlands' Ruud van Nistelrooy.
He retired after Euro 2008 but made himself available for the Dutch World Cup campaign in 2010, but didn't even make it to the preliminary 30-man squad. Which means the international career of the 33-year-old is as good as over.
Coach Van Marwijk felt the former Manchester United player is past his prime and would be unable to rediscover the form that plundered 33 goals in 64 appearances in the famous orange jersey.
Image: Ruud van Nistelrooy
Ghana will miss Essien
It surely is a big blow for Ghana that their influential midfielder Michael Essien is out of the World Cup.
Essien, who was a key figure in the 2006 World Cup, injured himself during the Africa Nations Cup earlier this year. It was his last competitive match for Ghana.The Chelsea midfielder, who struggled with injury this season, was told he will not fully recover until the end of July.
Image: Michael Essien
Freak injury put Ferdinand out
England captain Rio Ferdinand was ruled out of the World Cup after injuring his left knee in the team's first full training session since arriving in South Africa.
The 31-year-old central defender suffered a ligament injury in the final minutes of training after he went into a tackle and fell badly.
"Further to a scan arranged by the England medical staff immediately after training on Friday afternoon, Rio has been ruled out for four to six weeks and will therefore unfortunately miss the World Cup," said the FA.
The United defender appeared for England in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups and has made a total of 78 appearances, scoring three goals.
Image: Rio Ferdinand
Toni unable to impress Lippi
There was no place in the Italian side for Luca Toni. The 32-year-old was omitted from the preliminary squad after a poor showing in the Azzuri's last major tournament.
Toni was Italy's main striker in 2006 and at the 2008 European Championship, but lost his place after problems at Bayern Munich at the start of this season.
He moved to Roma in January and helped the club keep pressure on leaders Inter Milan heading into the final round of Serie A. But was not enough to impress coach Marcello Lippi.
Image: Luca Toni
Karim Benzema was left out of France's preliminary World Cup squad. Coach Raymond Domenech said it's because of the Real Madrid striker's unimpressive season, and not any alleged involvement in a sex scandal.
Benzema had often been left on the bench and scored only eight goals in the Spanish league this season after costing Madrid $44.4 million in 2009.
Instead of Benzema, Domenech selected Toulouse striker Andre-Pierre Gignac and in-form Djibril Cisse, who scored 29 goals this season with Panathinaikos.
Also missing the flight to South Africa are veteran midfielder Patrick Vieira and Samir Nasri.
Image: Karim Benzema
Obi Mikel sidelined
Nigeria were one the backfoot straightaway after losing John Obi Mikel, who was ruled out of the World Cup after a training ground injury sustained in his first practice back after a long lay-off.
The 23-year-old suffered a badly bruised ankle.
Obi Mikel had only just returned to full contact training after undergoing minor knee surgery in April.
He did light training with the Nigerian side after belatedly joining up with the World Cup squad in London.
Image: John Obi Mikel
Arshavin out after Russia miss the bus
One of the young guns of English giants Arsenal, Arshavin's Russia couldn't qualify for the World Cup 2010. The Russian, who won the UEFA Cup with Zenit St. Petersburg, was one of the most prolific scorers in the English Premier League.
He came into limelight with a brilliant performance in Euro 2008, and soon was on the radar of major managers.
Another star to miss the finals is Roman Pavlyuchenko, who too made his mark with impressive performances in Euro 2008. Playing for Tottenham Hotspur, he has scored in every English domestic cup competition game he played in.
Image: Andrei Arshavin
Togo machine gun missing
Togo machine gun Emmanuel Adebayor will surely be missed. The speed and skills the African footballer of 2008 brings onto the field is contagious. Africa would have loved to see another nation participate in the Cup.
He was one of Arsenal's prolific scorers before moving to Manchester City.
He was among the players to survive when the Togo national team's bus came under a gunfire attack on their way to the African Cup of Nations in Angola. With Togo not qualifying for the World Cup he retired from international football in April.
Image: Emmanuel Adebayor