Santos pins hopes on brace and top doctor

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 July, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 July, 1994, 12:00am

SOUTH China's injured star Leslie Santos is seeking medical advice from the doctor who mended Dutch super duo Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten.

The 27-year-old Santos has torn a cruciate ligament in his left knee twice and has been out of action for the past eight months.

Santos' medical advisers have sent his case history to Belgian surgeon Marc Martens, who had success with injuries to the Dutchmen.

''I don't want to do another operation here. I believe seeking medical advice abroad is the only to way to save my career,'' Santos said.

Either a cure must be found for his knee problem or his football career is finished.

''Now, whenever I bend my left knee I can hear some clicking sound from it and I cannot stretch my left leg,'' the midfielder said.

Santos' left knee was first injured during the last South China-British forces game of the 1992-93 season.

He was sidelined for six months, making a comeback last November.

But a heavy tackle by Sing Tao's Ian Docker tore the cruciate ligament again.

Santos went through another knee operation in December, followed by a series of physiotherapy sessions which cost $200,000.

Now the most talented Chinese midfielder in the territory has to rely on a plastic knee brace to fix the position of his knee-joint.

Santos imported the knee brace - costing $2,000 - a month ago from the United States and he is asking the Hong Kong Football Association for approval to wear it during matches.

The FA have said if the world's governing body FIFA approve, he can play in the knee brace.

Since Italian internationals Paulo Maldini and Nichola Berti have used a similar type of knee brace in official games before, Santos is confident his will be able to return to soccer.

Santos said he definitely would miss the first few games of the new season and then it would depend on his luck.

Meanwhile, the Asian Football Confederation has ordered the HKFA to have South China submit a detailed report on May's President's Cup final in the Philippines.

That game between the Caroliners and the Philippines National Team was abandoned due to a fight between both sides' players. South China's young defender Lee Wai-leung was injured.

Vincent Yuen, the HKFA's chief executive officer, said they had informed South China's management. The document will be discussed, together with the report from the Philippines side and the referees' report, during the AFC's council meeting in August.

Yuen said the local team may be fined or the players involved would be suspended.

In other news, the new boys of the First Division Golden are looking to sign Dutchman Marlon Van der Sander, who had a short spell with South China last season, as their sixth foreign professional.