Injured soccer star Ronaldo was sent a get-well message from Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
The AC Milan striker ruptured a tendon in his left knee during a 1-1 draw with Livorno in the Serie A on February 13. Ronaldo underwent surgery on February 14 and is expected to be out for up to nine months.
Silva, an ardent soccer fan, urged Ronaldo to persevere on February 15. "Like me, millions of Brazilians watched with broken hearts your pain, your sadness and your suffering," Silva said in an official note. "And I join those millions of Brazilians to say to you: boy, keep going, resist, don't lose heart."
Ronaldo, 31, was named FIFA Player of the Year in 1996, '97 and 2002. He was a member of Brazil's World Cup winning team in 1994 and 2002.
Some commentators wondered whether Ronaldo will return after the injury - he was out for nearly two years with a similar injury to his right leg in 1999. But Silva urged Ronaldo to continue.
"Like our Brazilian people, I believe that you will return to the field and again be an example of courage and perseverance," Silva said. "And I'm sure, as a lover of soccer, that you will give all Italians and Brazilians the joy of seeing you make extraordinary plays and score the goals that brought us and will bring us so much happiness.