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Real Madrid vs. AC Milan in Dubai

50-50 Challenge
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Zanetti dismisses retirement fears

Javier Zanetti is confident of returning to action "stronger than before" after rupturing the Achilles tendon in his left foot during Inter Milan's 1-0 defeat to Palermo on Sunday.

• Whittaker: Another defeat

Zanetti, 39, shrugged off fears about the injury forcing him into retirement after undergoing tests at Pavia's Policlinico San Matteo. He was forced off the pitch in the 17th minute of the loss which saw Inter's tough season take another turn for the worst.

"My goal is to come back stronger than before, and I believe (I can)," he told the club's official website. "I had to change tyres after so many miles... I'm sorry for how the season has gone. Injuries can happen and they're part of this profession. The most important thing is the team. We'll decide when surgery will take place.

"They still haven't given me the timescale involved, but my career certainly isn't over. What matters is healing well. What I want most is to be back with my team-mates. I'm sorry I can't give (my team-mates) a hand in the final part of the season, but I'm confident they'll be able to qualify for the Europa League.

"I appreciate the messages from the fans, as well as those from president (Massimo) Moratti, my team-mates and the many others who have shown their support."

AC Milan forward Mario Balotelli, a former team-mate of Zanetti's between 2006 and 2010, wished the veteran defender well in his rehabilitation.

He said: "I want to wish Javier Zanetti a speedy recovery, because he's a great champion but first and foremost a great man."

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