SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile defender Gary Medel, one of the country’s most promising players, was injured on Saturday when his car crashed and he was thrown out of the vehicle.
A police spokesman told reporters the 21-year-old’s car collided with a crash barrier on the highway from the resort of Vina del Mar to Santiago.
The spokesman said Medel, who in October 2007 was arrested for drink-driving in Santiago, was alone and not wearing a seat belt.
His club Universidad Catolica said Medel, voted Footballer of the Year in 2008 by the Chilean Sports Writers’ Association, had suffered cuts and bruises but escaped serious injury.
“Fortunately, there are no broken bones or serious injuries,” club doctor Cristian Fontbote told reporters.
“He was very lucky because, after being thrown out of the car, one would normally expect serious injuries.”
The club said on its Web site (www2.lacatolica.cl) that Medel, who did not lose consciousness at any stage, would be kept in hospital for several days.
It did not comment on when the defender, who was last week ruled out of action for up to two months with a groin injury, would be able to play again.
The club added that Medel had taken a breathalyser test which showed he had not been drinking.
Medel has been a regular for Chile under coach Marcelo Bielsa and last year scored both goals in a 2-0 World Cup qualifying win away to Bolivia.
But he has also been involved in numerous incidents.
He was sent off after only 15 minutes of the World Youth Championship semi-final against Argentina in 2007 and shortly afterwards was involved in a fight on the pitch with Universidad Catolica team mate Eros Perez during a league match.
The incident ended with Perez head-butting Medel.
In September 2007, he was given a six-match ban for spitting at an opponent during a match against Deportes Concepcion.
The following month he was involved in the drink-driving incident in the Bellavista neighbourhood, a favourite Santiago nightspot.
Police said on that occasion Medel lost control of his vehicle and ran off the street. The incident happened in front of a police post and he was immediately arrested.
Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Ken Ferris