There is only one story dominating the news agenda on Monday morning: the Achilles injury that will prevent David Beckham from playing in his fourth World Cup finals.
A grimacing Beckham is on the front pages of most of the newspapers and, as expected, there is an outpouring of sympathy for a man whose career has been so defined by the World Cup.
From the nadir of a red card suffered in 1998 and the redemption granted by his penalty against Argentina in 2002, to the metatarsal-inspired will-he-won’t-he saga of 2006, Beckham is a player built to produce drama on the biggest of stages.
But while the news of his injury is a disaster on a personal level, the more restrained of the nation’s press have been quick to point out that it is hardly terminal for England’s World Cup chances.
Sam Wallace, writing in the Independent, makes exactly that point.
"The England manager brought Beckham on for the last of his 115 caps in the win over Belarus in the last World Cup qualifier in October. He had to withdraw from the friendly against Brazil in November because of commitments with the Los Angeles Galaxy and he was not summoned from the bench in this month's friendly against Egypt.
"Beckham was not exactly an integral part of the Capello masterplan but he was an interesting option; a player who always offered a different option when to came to breaking down an opponent.
"Now that Beckham is out, the spotlight falls upon Aaron Lennon, arguably Capello's first-choice right winger. Tottenham have been unable to solve the problem of Lennon's groin that has stopped him playing since 28 December. It is understood to be an issue with scar tissue in his groin injury. Harry Redknapp has said he has no idea when Lennon will be ready.
"Given the choice, Capello would sooner have a fit Lennon than a fit Beckham. He would sooner have a fit Ashley Cole or the guarantee that Rio Ferdinand was not about to break down again than a fit Beckham. He would probably sooner not have had to sack John Terry as captain last month."
Oliver Kay of the Times also laments the news, while putting Beckham's injury in some much-needed context.
"When Beckham suffered a fractured metatarsal in the build-up to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, the English nation suffered with him. At one stage The Sun urged readers to use their front page as a prayer mat in the absurd hope that the positive energy would help his recovery.
"That, though, was at the height of Beckham-mania. Eight years on, while it is a tragedy for England’s favourite footballer, it is an inconvenience for Fabio Capello and the national team. There was a strong case for Capello to go to the World Cup without Beckham, whose principal value since he was recalled by Steve McClaren in 2007 has been the experience he brings to the group.
"To say such things this morning will be to speak ill of a national treasure, but, with two of Aaron Lennon, Theo Walcott and Shaun Wright-Phillips offering pace and penetration on the right-hand side and with Steven Gerrard, James Milner and Joe Cole all able to perform effectively there, he had ceased to look a natural inclusion in Capello’s squad.
"For those of us who have not been blinded by his celebrity, it took an illuminating cameo for Milan against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Champions League last Wednesday to serve as a reminder that he still had something to offer at the highest level.
"Whether or not he was inspired by his former surroundings or by the affection that he received from the crowd, he rolled back the years with a series of devilish crosses and with a thunderous right-foot volley that Edwin van der Sar, the United goalkeeper, had the temerity to keep out. In retrospect, that looks, more than ever, like a swansong."