Marseille defender Souleymane Diawara insists there was no malicious intent behind the tackle which has ruled Cristiano Ronaldo out for a month.
The Real Madrid winger sprained his right ankle during his team’s 3-0 Champions League victory over OM on September 30.
He insisted he was fit to start for Portugal in their penultimate World Cup qualifier against Malta on Saturday but lasted less than half an hour before being substituted with a recurrence of the problem.
Ronaldo returned to Madrid on Sunday and medical tests indicated he would be out of action for “three to four weeks”, much to Diawara’s dismay.
The 30-year-old told Spanish daily AS: “I am sad and it is something that has been tormenting me for days.
“I never meant to hurt him. Before the game against Madrid there was a lot of anticipation. It was a particular dream. I think Madrid are the best team in the world. At last my dream came true, but because of the defeat and everything that happened with Cristiano it became something else.”
Diawara was sent off on the hour at the Bernabeu for a hard but seemingly fair sliding challenge on Ronaldo.
Ronaldo did well down the left but he only looked to have won a corner after the Marseille centre-back slid in to take the ball off the £80m man’s foot.
It was a crunching challenge and left Ronaldo writhing in agony, but Diawara got the ball and he must have been astonished to see the referee not only award a penalty but also produce a second yellow card.
Diawara nevertheless feels bad about the challenge and wishes the former Manchester United man a speedy recovery.
“I could not talk to him directly,” he added. “But I’ve tried. In fact, on Sunday afternoon I was in the offices of Marseille and we decided we would send a fax to Real Madrid.
“It (the fax) says what I have in my heart. It say that I regret the damage that was caused and I wish for him to recover as soon as possible. Football will miss him. Marseille do not know if it has sent yet, but I hope so.
“My intentions were never bad.”
The injury is to the same ankle Ronaldo was operated on last year, but the world’s most expensive player has reassured fans it is in no way related and expects to be back sooner rather than later.
Ronaldo is almost certain to miss the Primera Division games against Valladolid, Sporting Gijon and Getafe as well as the Champions League home clash against AC Milan and the Copa del Rey match at Alcorcon.
He is also likely to be absent from Madrid’s visit to the San Siro and the derby against Atletico Madrid.