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Let's celebrate Moore and Beckham

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Phil McNulty | 22:30 UK time, Wednesday, 11 February 2009

David Beckham has split opinions as often as defences in a recent nomadic existence that has taken him from the Bernabeu to Beverly Hills and back to Europe with AC Milan.

So when he matched Bobby Moore's tally of 108 England caps - the record for an outfield player - by coming on against Spain in Seville, it was the signal for another debate centred around one the country's great sporting polemics.

Is Beckham worthy of matching Moore, still the only England captain to lift the World Cup?

It is a debate that must be set in its proper context. In the modern days of more regular internationals, 108 is only a number and we are comparing two players who operated in vastly different eras in different positions.

And unless and until Beckham wins the World Cup with England, Moore's iconic status and reputation will always be preserved in the more precious metal of the Jules Rimet Trophy.

It has still not stopped England internationals past and present dipping into the debate with predictably wide-ranging verdicts.


The received wisdom appears to be that Beckham comes in very much a poor second to Moore, that his latter collection of cameo caps renders any argument that he can match the man who won the World Cup irrelevant.

My own view is that direct comparisons, as someone once said in a debate between a horse, goose, and sheep, are odious - but we can state some facts that will help to shape any argument.

Moore played in three World Cups, excelling as a youngster when England reached the quarter-final in 1962 and winning it on home soil four years later.

He demonstrated his strength of character and coolness under pressure to perhaps an even greater degree in Mexico in 1970, where he was outstanding again.

Moore had been wrongly implicated in the theft of a bracelet in Bogota before the tournament - but emerged to deliver what many observers still regard as the finest performance of his career when England lost a group game to eventual winners Brazil in Guadalajara.

He delivered a performance of such poise and precision that the great Pele, arguably at the peak of his powers in that tournament, sought him out at the final whistle to set up a famous photograph of the pair swapping shirts.

Moore, who died of cancer aged just 51 in 1993, will always have a unique - and as yet unmatchable - place in England's football pantheon because he has done what no-one else has yet done and led his country to World Cup glory.

When England's football history is written, Bobby Moore will be remembered as the player who captained them to the World Cup - his tally of 108 caps will be rightly moved to the margins.

Beckham has never truly delivered at a major tournament, either because of a red card, injury and loss of form - and his critics will point to the cult of celebrity that has sometimes threatened to undermine his excellence as a footballer.

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I have been critical of Beckham's form for England in the past, and irritated by how coaches, especially Sven-Goran Eriksson, have been in thrall to him without justification.

It blinded Eriksson's judgement in Japan in 2002, when he picked a clearly unfit Beckham and the price was paid in the losing quarter-final against Brazil in the searing heat and humidity of Shizuoka. Beckham jumped out of a tackle just before the interval, a moment that led to Rivaldo's crucial equaliser.

Beckham was off the pace at Euro 2004 in Portugal, when even his trademark dead-ball skills let him down when he missed a penalty in a group game against France and in a shoot-out against the hosts in the last eight.

He was mediocre in Germany two years later, but was still one of England's better performers. Beckham ended that World Cup in tears injured on the touchline - and with his international career seemingly over.

I was convinced he would never be seen playing for England again as I watched him resign the captaincy in tears at a press conference in Baden-Baden 24 hours later - but it is this iron will and refusal to accept what we believed was the inevitable that deserves complete respect.

He was dignified when dropped as a grand gesture by Steve McClaren, and set about regaining his place in the squad.

It was a mission he accomplished, confounding many of us with the way he was happy to return to the ranks without any rancour after losing his precious captain's armband.

He remains in the squad, moving to AC Milan to ensure he did so, and having observed how Fabio Capello operates, his presence is not down to the Italian acting out of sentiment - this is an alien concept to him.

Capello must feel he can make a contribution, although this is as much down to his potential successors failing to make their case as Beckham's own performances.

I only met Bobby Moore once, at Highbury shortly before his death. He was a modest, unfailingly polite individual prepared to talk football with anyone. It was scandal of sorts how he was not allowed to make a greater contribution to our game after he finished playing.

I would never pretend to know Beckham as a person, but I have watched him in action at close quarters around the world and any criticism made of him as a player must be set alongside his exemplary behaviour for England off the field.

In Japan he received pop star adulation and was blinded by flashlights everywhere he went. He was the perfect ambassador as captain, as he was in Portugal and Germany, never refusing any reasonable request from fascinated fans who followed his every move.

We may have questioned some of his moves on the field, but Beckham was a force for good for England's reputation off the pitch.

Indeed, when he won his 100th cap in England's friendly defeat in France in March, a hostile Stade de France rose as one to applaud him when he was substituted after 63 minutes.

Does this make him the equal of Bobby Moore? Let the debate rage.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Obviously Beckham is never going to be held in the same light as The Late Great Bobby Moore - as he lifted the greatest prize in world football and will forever be remeberd because of that?!

    But as for Beckham he should be admired in a totally different light for the way he has constructed himself off the pitch aswell as on it(apart from the silly mistake of a young boy in 98) but still he came back bigger better and stronger after the nation was burning effergies of him in the streets, he came back to lead his country and single hanedly pull us through a few games all by himself, reme,ber greece people?! He cannot be blammed for a managers choice to play him at not full strength due to his sentiment, that is the managers problem for not being of strong enough stuff to make the tough decisions?! after all he took a kid, in walcott, to a major tournament, with no intention of playing him, when he should of probably taken a more vialble option to help the squad(nothing against walcott) i am merely pointing out that some of Svens choices were not the best?!

    But Beckham should be every remeber for the good he has done for club, counrty and football in general, to keep coming back and proving everyone wrong takes some doing?!
    and i believe he may still yet have one last hoorah to prove us all wrong with again?!

    well done Becks

  • Comment number 2.

    Phil McNulty, I love you to bits....

    thank you for a very informative and moving article....

    beautifully crafted concerning Moore and Beckham....

    I have had respect for Beckham ever since he conducted himself with yes, class....after the boot throwing incident by the knighted Ferguson. He has worked his ass off to play for England...he is deserving.

    He has made mistakes but has never crashed cars, beaten up players or the public, brought shame on his family....
    he is no saint.....but he is a good man, who loves the beautiful game...and indeed has made some beautiful moments.

    He knows that he is honoured to join Moore because he honours the game. Thank you.

  • Comment number 3.

    Beckham and Moore played in two very different England teams and two very different eras both achievements are special in their own ways. Beckham was probably our best player 2nite when he came on.

  • Comment number 4.

    There's no doubt in my mind that Moore is the greater of the two, but we should just admire the two for the great players they were and are. Both represented England with pride and both have deserved all their caps, and should be admired for all they have achieved.

  • Comment number 5.

    Avoiding temptation to focus on anything but football, Beckham is a legend. He is an ambassador for the game, off the pitch carries himself with a certain modesty which is impressive when considering is fame.

    His attitude to training and discipline to his profession has been complemented from every club he's played for. At Madrid, he was similar to Owen, overlooked by a club ridden with hierarchy, yet was the turning point in the season when Cappello realised his error of judgement by not picking him. Owens goal scoring record was better than anyones during his era.

    The guy is a true English legend, makes mistakes, but learns from them.

    All memories of Argentina red card were erased when he single handedly lifted another no-show from the likes or Gerrard and Scholes in a white shirt...and was simply the best in the world for 90 mins vs Greece.

  • Comment number 6.

    Ridiculous to compare players from different eras - but to add to the debate

    1 - Man Utd weren't the same team after Beckham left and had to wait until Ronaldo came of age to win another league title

    2 - Beckham inspired Real to the title in the same season

    3 - Very lazy journalism to cite the 2002 Rivaldo goal - have a look again and you will see that the comical defending of Ashley Cole and Paul "Sacred Cow" Scholes had far more to do with that goal than Beckham who was around 90 yards from goal!

  • Comment number 7.

    "Let the debate rage".
    Debate mybe, but rage?
    Sorry, disappointingly divisive.
    Celebrate both of them, excellent ambassadors in two entirely different ages.

  • Comment number 8.

    No comparison Phil. Bobby Moore lifted the World Cup in his finest hour, when the country most needed him.

    When the country's team needed David Beckham the most, he was awol, sent off or injured.

    Don't insult Bobby Moore's memory with this vacuous comparison.

  • Comment number 9.

    I think another element you haven't covered, Phil, is that Beckham was initially capped late - 21 - and had two eras - under McLaren and Capello - where he missed at least ten games. Not that this helps in terms of comparisons with Moore, but I find it intriguing that if Hoddle had been more adventurous, and Beckham had moved to Milan straight from the Bernabeu instead of via LA, he would probably be right up around Shilton's record.

    Talking of Peter Shilton, isn't it funny how no debate rages about whether Shilton is better than Moore, or Beckham is better than Shilton? I think people are using this whole caps debate to have a pop at Beckham - and what better way than to talk about Moore? I mean, it's not as if Beckham can really defend himself against whatever people say if Moore is included within it (because as you said, he's sacred for lifting the Jules Rimet)?

    I think it's all academic really. There's little doubt, surely, that Rooney will get the most caps? He's made 48 appearances at the age of 23. Surely another decade, which will include another three World Cups and two European Championships. should see him break that record?

  • Comment number 10.

    Beckham and Moore are totally different players and until we win a WC/EC with Beckham, in terms of what has been done for English football, Moore will always come out clear winner.

    However, I completely agree with the notion that Beckham is a brilliant ambassador for the English game, and easily one of the best choices for our WC2018/22 bid. They have both contributed much to our game and both deserve places in the history of the English game, not as competitors but as colleages promoting English football

  • Comment number 11.

    Bobby Moroe is great and Beckham is great too, if not greater....Beckham has alwayz proven his critics wrong and has always given 100%

  • Comment number 12.

    If I were a striker I would worship Beckham for his delivery of the ball - all you would have to do is run to the appointed spot and nod it in. He has no little skill and works his socks off for the cause. However, he never has been or is the match of Bobby Moore who was quite simply World Class.

    Beckham wouldn't get in my top team of the past or present. Not an insult to him really - he can take great merit in being a real professional.

  • Comment number 13.

    He is nowhere near as good as Moore, but he is a great role model, and conducts himself in a very professional way. I for one, respect the guy, but skills wise, he just comes short of the former great.

  • Comment number 14.

    yes he deserves everything. He is a credit to his team, the game and to his country. And tonight against Spain we were outclassed but his balls were some of the only bright lights. He has been our most dedicated and talented footballer of true class for 12 years....hence his 108 caps by 6 managers and his achievements for 3 of the worlds biggest clubs in the worlds 3 biggest footballing countries. It is a no brainer. He has been fantastic and still is.

    The only thing is Bobby More is a legend that won the world cup in a different age. But not that many people leaving comments here will have seen too many of his games so all they are going on is his legendary status. If Beckham somehow managed to play in s africa and if England got some amazing luck and capello managed to somehow get the team synchronised at the right time and we won! Then he would have to go down as one of our all tkime greats without question!

  • Comment number 15.

    Equal to Bobby Moore, no. Same number of caps, yes. Life is in constant change so it is not possible to compare whose is the greatest achievement, both lived in their own time, and followed a pattern that was available to them. It is the same in all sports and most other walks of life, you take your cards and you play them in the time that you are in. Times change, mobility gets easier, more games are played etc. etc. In one sence you cannot equal what Bobby Moore achieved, but David Beckham has the same number of caps, I don't believe that makes them equal, they just lived in different times. I was glad to see that David ignored the comparison in his interview after the game.


  • Comment number 16.

    Playing for clubs in as many as four different countries would be unheard of in Moore's day. Beckham has experienced so many different leagues and made an impact in every single one of them. He also knows exactly how to sell himself and make the best of any situation.
    He is humble enough to be full of humility, but brilliant enough to afford an ego. He looked to be down and out, and maybe he has been played when he shouldn't have been, but he's in the middle of a comeback with one of the worlds greatest, most prestigious footballing clubs.

    Surely that's worth 108 caps?

    Moore was just an utter England legend, and quite frankly, since that era of short shorts, and when tackles that would be deemed unlawfully dangerous in todays game that back then were commonplace, when have we had an England hero? A few have come close in recent years like Owen, Shearer, Lineker, Gazza etc... (I'm sure I'll get blasted for not naming at least another 5 or 6 England legends in this post) but none have ever delivered. Am I right in thinking that Beckham is the best to emerge from English talent since the 60's? I'd have to say if not, then I wouldn't be far off in saying so to be honest.

    He is a role model on and off the pitch and deserves every bit of credit he gets for achieving this record-equalling amout of caps.

  • Comment number 17.

    Very well said Phil...

    I know it's cliche, but I don't think you can fairly compare Beckham to Moore: Bobby Moore is a legend for what he delivered for England. Beckham and the England teams he's played on have not delivered any silverware.

    However, you have to take your hat off to both men for the way they conducted themselves off the field. Moore's ability in Mexico to put false accusations aside: Beckham's reaction to death threats after his red card fiasco.

    Other than that, Moore is clearly head & shoulders the more accomplished footballer and it's a great shame he isn't here to see Beckham equal his cap record.

  • Comment number 18.

    I believe Beckham truly deserves his place in history and i take my hat off to him tonight for what is a remarkable achievment. People that slate Beckham have to remember that twice in his career he has bounced back from terrible lows, 1998 and 2006. It takes someone special to be able to do that. He carried the England team from 02-05 and without the injury in 04 who knows what may have happened? Throughout his career he has applied himself admirably and been the perfect role model, putting a lot back into football. Rather than detract from his achievment we should be applauding it. He is an Englishman who has always put his country first and someone we should stand and applaud for being one of the greatest sportsmen that our country as ever produced.

  • Comment number 19.

    Bobby Moore was simply an imperious player who would have been selected in any world XI between 1966-1972 - in most as captain. I have yet to see a better reader of a football match. You will never see a better game by a defender than Moore v Pele Mexico 1970.

    To compare Beckham to Moore is an insult to his memory. The people who feel there is any remote comparison simply cannot have seen much footage of Moore playing at his peak.

    Beckham has done nothing for England in any big competition except get sent off for petulance and hang on to his place in the side to the detriment of others and the team. He is the equal of a goal kicker in American football. ok at the set piece -and that's it. He should not have been in the squad in the last world cup. He has created and perpetuated the "wag" culture which has distracted the team from its core objectives. If he was not such an egotist he would have retired gracefully some years ago. What ever his perceived merit - he cannot possibly represent the future - so he holds back the development of those that do.... team player ... I don't think so.

    The tabloids have it right "Golden Boy" or "Golden Balls" - one is the genuine article and the other one is genuinely a lot of ........... I suppose .....

  • Comment number 20.

    I have been a Manchester United Fan for close to 50 years. I followed a short semi-professional career by becomming a referee and a Nationally certified coach. I saw all of England's 1996 WC on BBC. Bobby Moore was a great captain of a very good team. Iv'e watched Beckham's entire career and while he was an excellent servant to ManU my belief is that he never was a GREAT player. If he had been great player SAF would never have gotten rid of him and be assurred SAF got RID of him. Iv'e seen some of Beckham's tepid performances in the US and sometines wonder why he still plays. I grant him his fitness and dedication, but he is simply a good player playing out the string. He will do more harm than good to England's 2010 chances

  • Comment number 21.

    Beckham was a good player for England. He's probably England's best ever right sided player but I'm not sure he's a great. As Phil said above, he's never done it in a big tournament and he's never done it against a great international team. He's looked a passenger in the 2006 World Cup so I suppose you have to take your hat off to him for doing it AC Milan. But maybe you have to question how good the Italian league is these days. The pundits said he was great in the second half of tonight's game but they also said it was played at the pace of a testimonial game. Make of that what you will.

  • Comment number 22.

    The game is so different now than when Moore played. To Beckham's credit, he's been sought after for both his footballing prowess as well as his ticket-selling (and merchandise) abilities by teams around the globe.
    But Moore's accomplishments in leading England to near the top of world football for a decade. His England teams were justly feared in 3 consecutive WC's. There have been nothing like that in England's WC history since then.
    In the end it has to be the original 'golden boy' of England football.
    It's about hardware.

  • Comment number 23.

    Worthy? The equal of? I'm not sure why this debate is even being waged? Slow news day or something? Since when did "caps" equate to footballing worth and or decipher the legacy of any one man?

    The reason I paint a cynical picture in regards to the issue is that we're arguing about bloody appearances! Appearances, for crying out loud! Like the captaincy a few years back the whole issue of "appearances" is a rather trivial matter and like Phil correctly points out, a mere footnote to the encyclopaedia that is the modern football player's career.

    Perhaps I'm underplaying the entire thing, but to me, the fact that both players just so happened to be the most frequently selected players in their positions, in their particular era, does not require the question of whether one, deserves to be talked in a similar breath to the other. We leave that to be deciphered by what it was each man brought with them to the football field in terms of ability and actuality.

  • Comment number 24.

    He would have been a better player had he never left united. Moving to Real Madrid killed his Career.

  • Comment number 25.

    Comparing Beckham to Bobby Moore is akin to comparing Rolf Harris with Rembrandt or Robbie Willaims with Mozart.

    Beckham at best is a poor mans David Platt for England and if it wasnt for his absurd celebrity, thats how hed be remembered.

  • Comment number 26.

    Aren't comparisons odious? Isn't it enough of an indicator of class that magical Moore and blase Beckham get mentioned together only on account of the number 108.
    Its 43 long years and England are still looking for another world title. When they find one, a magical hero will be found automatically. Indeed one will be intrinsic to the other.

  • Comment number 27.

    Nice blog Mr. McNulty I am writing from Mexico , I have never seen Beckam on the field only on the television a very good player and a public relations person ideal.Robert F. Moore was a superb player and had the honour of seen him in action at West Ham while I lived in London from 1963 to 1965 and again in the great match in Guadalajara Mexico against Brazil and in the game in Leon Mexico against Germany won by the germans in extra time, a great football player a great capitan for England.

  • Comment number 28.

    @ 6: queenmonkeyboys:

    Madrid won 2 pieces of silverware in Beckham's 4 seasons at the club: the Spanish Supercup (2003) and La Liga (2007).

  • Comment number 29.

    At the risk of spitting in church...

    Moore got caght in possession and gave away the goal that stopped us going to the '74 world cup. For me that is why he was undervalued by the football world after he retired. That and escape to victory.Beckham had the chance to redeem himself on the field after his red card against Argentina, Moores big mistake came at the end of his career so he never got chance. I think we were just realising what a national treasure he was when he died, if he had lived he would have been Sir Bobby, then Lord Moore of west Ham, and hopefully by now the Prince of Wales.

  • Comment number 30.

    I honestely have never seen Bobby Moore play so cannot comment on him. But from what I have heard and little info I have gathered, he is a Legend. And who will not be when one lifts a world cup!!
    We cannot compare Bobby with Beckham cos it will be like comparing apples with oranges.. The comparison should end at the numbers of 108. Thats it. I believe both of them deserve their status and rightfully so. I cringe when people say that Beckham has not performed in any major event. I beg to differ. If anyone can point out which English player has performed well since the last 20 years in a major event then I would be highly obliged. Beckham plays with 10 other guys and his skill lies in feeding the strikers and setting up goals. He receives flak a lot of times undeservedly only becos of his celebrity status. Beckham is a great player of my era. Bobby Moore remains a Legend.

  • Comment number 31.

    At his peak, I think Beckham really was a great player, and I think he still has enough of that to merit a team place today. At his peak, too, I think he'd have made it into the '66 squad, and he's put in some performances that prove what kind of player he can be. But his problem, and I guess a big problem for a lot of the England team for a long time, has been consistency.

    Bobby Moore in his peak seemed to play consistently well, where today, the England squad - and the players in it - seem to roll from high-flying to stumbling crawls without much of a break between. It's not unique to Beckham, but he's not exempt from that criticism either, and above all I think that's where Beckham and today's star squad players fall short of the team of '66, simply because those players seemed to be able to take that high form and replicate it far more readily.

    If the England squad of today could take their high-flying form and be consistent with it - or even consistently within 25% of it - maybe they'd be just as feared today as our World Cup heroes were. But they just don't seem to be able to anymore.

  • Comment number 32.

    I've always thought Beckham a bit over-rated. He's slow, can't tackle, poor at heading, and early in his career had a real disciplinary problem. He'd also get injured on "A Question Of Sport". On the plus side, he has a tasty right foot - given time and space he will deliver the killer cross or pass. Also he's great with the dead ball. If that's enough to keep getting caps it says something about England's lack of depth.

    On the other hand Bobby Moore captained a world cup winning side. He was a good (if somewhat one-sided) player but I can't see his achievement bested any time by an Englishman.

  • Comment number 33.

    This debate drives me insane! Who are we to say Beckham dosent deserve his status, or to be mentioned in the same breath as Moore??

    Absolutely rediculous! Beckham is one of the greatest role models football, NAY, sport, has ever produced. Yes Moore was a legend and taken way before his time, but he didnt ever have the ammount of weight on his shoulders that Beckham has had since such a young age.

    As for the future of England, Beckham isnt keeping anyone out of the team! It should be the other way round, players should be trying to keep Beckham out of the team. If there was reasonable competition for his position, then fair play, but right now, with Walcott out, NO1 can offer what he offers on that right side.

    Makes me laugh it realy does, Beckham does everything in his power to represent his country, yet you still get so called 'patriotic' Englishmen complaining that hes here??? Believe me, if all English players had his mentality and desire to represent the 3 lions, we would be an unstoppable force, we would dominate the world.

    Also its not Capellos responsibility to nurture new right sided players, thats the responsibility of club managers, then second in line to that is Stuart Pierce. And untill we have a suitable replacement, or a more in-form player, Capello is absolutely right to include Beckham.

    Any Beckham cinics, grow up and let old memories go, the past is the past. It should be celebrated, not used as a comparison or a stick to beat players with

  • Comment number 34.

    I think Beckham had some tremendous games for England but unlike Moore who only had a few poor games in the latter part of his career Beckham has had about thirty howlers.
    At his best Beckham was inspirational but at his worst, which was often he was a liability. I don't think that at any time in his career Beckham could have been considered one of the top five players in the world.
    This doesn't mean he wasn't a good player but not the player many think he was. It is circumstances that has given Beckham so many caps, in my book his talent and his caps do not correlate.
    Gascoigne was a far more talented, if ultimately flawed player and so was Hoddle, who was so poorly treated by Greenwood. There are so many people looking for a modern day hero and forget that his England career in reality has been a complete failure because he rarely turned a game round and it's not as if other players never had inspirational games for England.

    Beckham should have retired from international football after the last world cup then we could have looked back at him and said he was a good player shame he never won anything, now we just see a player who is a shadow of a once quite good player.
    If we haven't got better than Beckham then we should sidestep the next world cup because he's half the player he was and we never won anything when he was at his best.

  • Comment number 35.

    It's all very well saying that Moore is a greater player than Beckham because he won the World Cup, but surely that's unfair - it's a team game after all.

    Ryan Giggs has never appeared in a World Cup, and George Best didn't either; that doesn't detract from them as players!

  • Comment number 36.

    No comparison. Bobby Moore a multi talented, passionate football legend. Beckam simply a hyped up celebrity icon. Maybe if he goes on big brother and they can dish out winners medals, then we can all bask in his glory. :-)

  • Comment number 37.

    Fair play to Beckham... I never rated him through the years but the last few seasons he has alwyas worked his arse of for the teams he has played for. He is good at what he does and that is delievering goal balls!!
    Atfer the match the englishs comments were that this match was a reality check...A reality check!!! England are not a good team and they will never win a tournament. Last night Spain showed England how to play football pass and move. The english players don't have that technical skill in there locker. Saying that Ireland were even worse last night, Whelan in the middle of the park?? doesn even get his game for his club. If we didn have Shay Given we would be embarrssed in every match.

  • Comment number 38.

    This is an insult to Bobby Moore

    David Beckham is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most overrated footballer ever.

    He has held back England for years. He should have been told in no uncertain terms that he was not to be captain and that he was not to take all the free-kicks/corners regardless and that he would not play regardless of form.

    And of course the media should never have referred to England as "Becks & Co" or variants on that. It helped undermine the self-belief of the other players.

  • Comment number 39.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 40.

    Why is there a debate about this?

    If Owen and Neville weren't injured so much, they would be close to the Bobby Moore record. Would they be compared to him in this way? Owen would rightly be hailed as the best striker of his era. Neville would rightly be hailed as the best right back of his era. Beckham is the best midfielder of his era. How many players have really excelled for England in the last 20 years?

    Maybe it was a mistake to play him when not fully fit but who else was there to replace him. To blame his inclusion when not fit for England's shortcomings is ignoring the fact that the rest of the team just don't know how to perform in an England shirt.
    I would rather have a less than 100% David Beckham for his dead ball game any day.
    Last nights' game showed what is the difference between a world class side and one that is just going through the motions. The England midfield was just statisionary compared to Spain. Beckham was the only one that wanted the ball and tried to make something happen. That is how he has been all his career. Never hidden from a challenge. Always putting himself on the line.

    He should be applauded for his professionalism and the dedication to a game we would all love to play but didn't have the skill or ambition to do so. Anyone can see how much he loves playing for England. That in itself should make him a national treasure. I think he deserves his caps alot more than Lampard or Gerrard who have never done anything for England.
    Don't get me wrong. I was glad SAF sold him when he did. Because all his press was becoming tiresome and his game had become stale too. But I never questioned his attitude on the pitch or his desire to put on the red shirt.

    I think people are scared he will become Sir David Beckham one day. So what. I for one hope I am alive to see it.

  • Comment number 41.

    Beckham has always been an easy target because of his fame and celebrity, but if I had children I know which football player I'd be happy for them to use as a role model. He works so hard at his football and is a true gent on and off the field.

    Incidentally, when he came on yesterday he was clearly the best England player on the pitch. With better finishing he'd have created 2 goals for us - on with the sweeping cross-field pass to Wright-Phillips, the other with a through ball to Carlton Cole.

    Finally, just for the attention of the Irish gentleman. England were playing a friendly last night away to the best team in the world without the heart of our team - Gerrard, Rooney, Ferdinand, Owen. In a competitive match with everyone fit we'd have contained Spain no problem. It's Eire who'll never win anything, not England.

  • Comment number 42.

    I think Phil sums it up in his piece when he mentions the achievements of the two at major tournaments.

    The top, top players all rise to the ocassion when it matters most. At international level we can see the examples of Pele ('58 and '70), Beckenbauer and Cruyff ('74), Platini ('84), Maradona ('86), Romario ('94), Zidane ('98, although really only the final and '00), Ronaldo ('02), Cannavaro ('06) to name a few from past European Championships and World Cups. Bobby Moore can rightly be put into that bracket for his achievements in '66 and performances in '70. This is what the top players do - they perform under intense pressure at the most crucial times. They sieze their moment and write themselves into history.

    THis is something that Beckham achieved once - with his performance and goal in the Greece game in '01. He is rightly lauded for it. He siezed the opportunity and as a result he left an indelible mark on the England team.

    But, when push comes to shove, at a top international tournament, how does he come out?

    '98: forced his way into the side with a great performance against Colombia, then let his teammates down against Argentina (ok, he was young, but it still happened).

    '00: poor performance in a poor team.

    '02: injured or not he was poor.

    '04: possibly the worst set of performances seen from any leading England player at a major tournament. Truly abysmal.

    '06: slightly better, contributing goals and assists, but (as we surely all remember) he was largely responsible for the paucity of our play: the lack of pace, penetration and guile in the midfield that caused us to be so pedestrian, without any subtlety of movement, without breaking the lines, without having runners from deep that supported the forwards. Remember how much better Aaron Lennon was whenever he came on to the right hand side instead of Beckham?

    So - in 5 major international tournaments Beckham must be considered a failure at each and every one. Regardless of whether there are external factors to explain that, it is a fact. This is why he will never be rightly spoken about in the same breath as an international footballer as Moore (or any of the '66 team for that matter), Lineker ('86) or Gascoigne ('90), or perhaps even Owen ('98) and Rooney ('04) - all players who when it mattered left their mark on an international tournament: effectively players who were able to sieze the moment in a major competition, something that Beckham never managed to do.

  • Comment number 43.

    remember though Bobby Moore played 108 caps starting every england game and finishing every game so he worked for his caps by playing every single minute for england.

    Becks has come on late in a lot of his games recently and has averaged only 75 minutes per game compared to Moores 90!!

  • Comment number 44.

    And just how many caps would Beckham have won in Bobby Moore's and Bobby Charlton's era? 60, 70?

    I find it laughable that he is being even linked in the same breath as these people as they dish out caps like confetti these days, in comparison.

    I'm a United fan and loved Beckham when at his best but he is not the future of the England team and we should all move on from this fixation.

  • Comment number 45.

    Not wanting to take anything away from the acheivements of Bobby Moore, but I wasn't alive then, and in truth don't feel I can really make comment.

    I have watched the 1966 final, yes. But out of context (the game is so different then than int is today) it is clearly very difficult to make direct comparisons.

    I feel the debate of 'who is better' is pretty redundant.

    My point is this - how many of the above posters on this thread were actually around in '66, and witnessed Moore at his best, and how many are merely people jumping on the band-wagon, waxing lyrical about something they don't really know anything about?

  • Comment number 46.

    Oh, and in response to poster 38 -

    Sir, you do speak an awful lot of rubbish in my own humble opinion.

  • Comment number 47.

    For me Moore contributed more to England. All Beckhams finest achievements, THAT goal against Greece aside, came at club level.

    I'm afraid the media created the Beckham myth, yet somewhat ironically, they never really give him credit for his finest hour. That was the run-in 2002-03, when Beckham almost single handedly dragged Utd back into the title race and ultimately pipped Arsenal to the trophy. Utd were adrift and desparately tryng to hold onto Arsenal disappearing tail. Against Sunderland he came off the bench at 0-1 with time running out, he scored one and set one up. Similar against Chelsea, saved a game against Bolton in the last minute creating a tap in for Solskaer and generally galvinised the team. Scholes got the headlines for his goals in the run-in, but without Beckhams efforts they would have already lost the title by then and Arsenal had suspensions and injuries. He really deserved that medal.

    Sadly, he almost never reproduced this form for England. Sure he could look busy, look skilful and cultured, but often with no product. The great players win World Cups, win Euro's. Gerd Muller, Franz Beckenbauer, Diego Maradona, Micel Platini, Marco Van Basten, Ronaldo, Zidane.

    That's the difference.

    If this debate was 'Is Beckham one of the true Man U greats?', I would say yes. Unfortunately, 108 caps these days doesn't mean the same thing as 108 caps in Moore's era.

    When I think of Moore, I think of Brazil 1970, wembley 1966. When I think of Beckham I think of Armani, Rebecca Loos and lots of different haircuts.

    Quote: and was simply the best in the world for 90 mins vs Greece.

    Yeah but, for 90 minutes vs Brazil in 1984 John Barnes was the best player in the world!!! For 90 minutes vs Germany in 2001 Sven was the best manager in the world! Careers are not built on one game.

    An above average player, and not the most annoying Beckham in the world, but I think we may end looking back in 20 years and thinking he could been so much more.

  • Comment number 48.

    jrrugby and a few others hit the nail on the head.
    Beckham would never have got close to 108 caps in Moores day, because you could not play badly for your country and still get picked !!
    I saw nearly every single game that Moore played and you can count on one finger his poor performances.
    Beckham and the modern day player have the luxury of playing badly and still getting picked by managers with no guts.
    Erickson was a joke for England and kept Beckham in the team to the detriment of England.
    England are in a pretty shambolic state to rely on Beckham to get us to the world cup 2010 !!

  • Comment number 49.

    I'm a Beckham fan and, having watched Bobby Moore many times from the terraces at West Ham, I am a huge fan of Bobby Moore.
    The two records cannot be compared. Bobby Moore started and finished every one of his 108 games for England. There were no substitutions in those days, so it could be argued that he might have been substituted, although it's hard to imagine with whom he would have been replaced.
    One glaring ommission from your article is Billy Wright. He achieved an amazing 105 caps in the days when there were far fewer matches than there are today, not only that but the start of his international career was delayed by World War II.
    He also had celebrity status similar to Beckham's, having married one of the Beverley Sisters.

  • Comment number 50.

    Moore acheived the ultimate as England captain and no-one has come close since, Beckham included.

    Becks has deserved his england caps but never really fullfilled his potential to lead england successfully in a major tournament. I think between from the 2002 WC to the 2006 WC he (and a lot of other england players) went backwards when they should have been peaking. Since then he has improved and shown us glimpses of what might have been had he been less emroiled in celebirty and/or been controlled by a decent manager.

    Its no suprise that Beckham's club career (which has yielded a lot more trophies than Moore's) is dominated by the 2 managers who got the best out him: Fergie in his Man United years and Capello at Madrid who finally made him see how he was wasting his career. Becks must look back now and wish he hadn't fallen out with Sir Alex, he obviously needs a strong character to keep him focussed. Instead he got Sven...

  • Comment number 51.

    The comparison is not really valid. Several of David Beckhams caps were earned as substitute. Having said this let us remember that Bobby Moore might never have played for England had it not been for the death of the "Greatest England player EVER" Duncan Edwards in the Munich Air Disaster of 1958. It is my opinion that England would have won the 1958, 1962 and the 1966 world cup with Duncan Edwards and he would have set a cap record beyond the reach of David Beckham.

  • Comment number 52.

    There's no comparison, I'm afraid. If Beckham was half the player Moore was, he'd have reached the milestone years ago; after all, there are so many more matches played these days than when Bobby Moore was playing. In my view, the fact Beckham has reached 108 caps at all just shows what a paucity of talent there is in the English game at the moment.

  • Comment number 53.

    The most glaring thing i can say about the blog is that the comments on the playing side of their careers is very one sided, almost as if you have only seen Beckham play and not Bobby Moore! I'm sure Bobby made mistakes as does every player, and you seem to completely miss all the good things Beckham did, like get England to the World Cup almost single handedly in 2002, especially against Greece!
    In fact everything good that Moore did is highlighted and every thing bad Beckham did is highlighted!
    Might have been better to have given a more balanced insight into both of their careers!

  • Comment number 54.

    A lot of nostalgia going on here. I'm unfortunatly old enough to remember that not all of Moore's performances were "world class" and indeed he was probably at a similar level of performance as Beckham for England ie hot and cold.
    What I can say is that Beckham has certainly delivered a lot more on the club stage than Moore did. I would also hazard a guess that Beckham would have a few more caps if he wasnt suspended for games and tackles that were allowed back in the day. I also wonder how many more caps Beckham would have if the home internationals hadn't been axed . Another 30/40 or so I would guess at.

    Fair play to Beckham I say. But as ever, like a lot of modern British sports stars, the public and media alike these days like to take them down - Beckham's not as good as Moore, Calzaghe's not as good as Cooper, Hamilton's not as good as Stewart etc

    We used to be proud of our country, our heroes and our sports stars. What ever happened?

  • Comment number 55.

    I'll always remember Beckhams penalty against Argentina in 2002. The guts it took simply to hit the ball as hard as possible straight down the middle.

    I was watching the game in Aberystwyth and the reaction to that goal was like nothing i have eperienced before or since including the Germany 5-1 result or the Greece free kick or any goals at Luton Town.

    Anyone who says that penalty wasn't one of the best they've ever seen either doesn't know anything about football or is not an England fan.

    I'm not trying to compare the two but you can't argue that Beckham has been a great player and has given England fans some amazing memories. Whilst he's fit and in form i hope he carries on in the team.

  • Comment number 56.

    A well balanced blog Phil. My only question would be why do we have to make the comparison between top players. Surely Beckham deserves full recognition in his own right. How many other England players are as determined and as proud to wear the Three Lions as David Beckham so clearly is.

  • Comment number 57.

    Out of everything that has already been said there are arguments for and against. I'd like to look at it this way:

    If Beckham had been in the squad back in 1966 and had been picked ahead of Alan Ball or Martin Peters then I think the team would still have won the World Cup. In contrast, if Bobby Moore had been in any of the World Cup teams that Beckham has played in then he wouldn't have inspired them to win anymore than Beckham tried. So the results would be unchanged.

    Could Beckham have replaced Moore in the team? No, Beckham isn't a central defender. Could Moore have replaced Beckham? No, he wasn't a midfielder. Different players cannot be directly compared.

    If you want to discuss inspiration, did Moore really inspire the whole team to win in front of a home crowd at their home stadium (or was the occasion inspirational enough)? Didn't the likes of Gordon Banks, Jack Charlton, Nobby Stiles, Bobby Charlton and Geoff Hurst have anything to do with it? Yes, he was undoubtedly a special player, but he wasn't single-handedly responsible for winning the World Cup. The last few World Cups there have always been excuses that not all the key players have been fit or on-form. Back in 1966 they were. Beckham has, however, single-handedly inspired the England team on occasion to win. Not on the biggest stage admittedly. It souldn't count against Beckham that he hasn't won the World Cup, it is never won by an individual (Maradona's Argentina could be considered an exception), it is a team sport.

    I think that what can be concluded from all this babbling is that they can't be compared. I don't even think Beckham expects to be compared. They have simply both achieved the same number of appearances in an England shirt and no comparison is required.

  • Comment number 58.

    Congratulations to Beckham, who fully deserves his 108 caps. The man is a true sporing icon who not only loves the beautiful game but respects it. His achievements are testiment to his character and dedication. Players of Beckhams ability are very much recognised in today's game but whats makes Beckham different is his desire to play at the highest level.

    Booby Moore will always be classed as the greatest and rightly so as his acheivements for both club and country especially 1966 speak for theirself.

    These are two great players from two different eras and they shouldn't be compared as they both played different posistions.

    Both men are true English Legends

  • Comment number 59.

    Well done David, nobody can criticise his commitment to England's cause. No doubt he will lay in the shadows of Bobby Moore but who doesn't!

  • Comment number 60.

    dhimmi don't be silly...and here here bladder in the onion sack and BCC Chris

    It is not fair to compare the 2 and quite tiresome. As it is those who just don't see what he does for England. It beggars belief. I don't think these people are really England fans. Maybe club fans that idly watch England and hate Beckhams hype and media...but fundamentally he is an outstanding professional and one of our most talented footballers ...b4 everyone starts harping on about Scholes or Gascoine being much better....yes they were very talented but neither won England anything either. Gascoine was a floored player and person and Scholes turned his back on his country. And anyway a team is made up of different skills and his skill has been an important asset to Man U, Real Madrid, AC Milan and England for 108 games.

    We were outplayed by Spain but were missing Joe Cole, Ferdinand, Gerrad, Rooney,Walcott ...but when Beckham came on he gave his all as always and the 2 best balls of the half were his...a fantatsic cross the pitch ball to Wright Phillips and a fabulous through ball to Cole. And not forgetting his freekick. Had the finishing been better. Had we had Torres or Dilla at the end of those crosses we could well have come away with 2 goals. His input showed he was worthy of his place. The best player of the second half. We could hardly get the ball into their half and without those 2 great balls there would have been hardly any positives from it.

    Still, I think England will bounce back from this and strive on. And Beckham should and will be a key member of the squad for the rest of the world cup 2010 touranment.

  • Comment number 61.

    Of course Moore's England career was aided by being surrounded by players who could perform on the big stage, while Beckham's rarely has.

    Don't get me wrong, at the end of the day Moore performed when it mattered for England and at tournaments that's rarely been the case with Beckham. But just as it's had to compare the two, let's not use this as an opening for Beckham-bashers to fill theirs boots.

  • Comment number 62.

    Realistic view on Beckham:
    -Most sent off player for playing for England (Twice)
    Another One to get Beckham fans going....
    -Indirectly responsible for losses in 3 major tournaments
    1998: Sent off v Argentina
    2000; Less said the better for whole team
    2002: Jumped out of tackle which led to equaliser on stroke of half-time
    2004: Missed penalty in shootout v Portugal
    2006: Beckham goes off injured v Portugal and Lennon comes on and we look like we could win the game

    Before anyone goes on about Greece game - that one game didnt make us qualify! We played a group of games and the game that arguably got us back on track was beating Germany in Germany 5-1 with Owen's hat-trick. Without this result we would not have won group. Also, if we had lost to Greece, we would have been in the play-offs and not knocked out. Germany beat a poor Slovakia side 6-0 over 2 legs to qualify (and then reached the final).
    If i had taken 17 free-kicks I would have surely got one in!
    Also, remember Beckham did not score for 3 years for Engalnd form a set-piece (2003-2006) despite taking almost every free-kick when on the pitch.
    Beckham is one man in a team of 11 he did not carry the team as someone has suggested for 3 years. Owen's goals in this period were also valuable.

    Final comment - has Beckham ever produced a match-winning display against a big team. I can't think of any....

  • Comment number 63.

    Swap "Let the debate rage" for "No" and this article would be spot-on.

  • Comment number 64.

    i wish people would stop carping on about beckham 'pulling out of the tackle' against brazil - i remember watching that incident and thinking how intelligent it was (hard to imagine from beckham i know):

    from what i can recall, the brazilian player was trying to hit the ball against beckham in order to gain a brazil throw-in. beckham didn't want to give the ball away so withdrew from the tackle in the hope that it would go to an england player, but the ball happened to go to a brazilian player and the goal resulted

    it was a risk he was taking, but it was a calculated risk that turned out for the worst

    beckham is not known for his intelligence, but his football brain is second to none

  • Comment number 65.

    As a footballer Beckham is vastly overated. Even during his peak his game was pretty one-dimensional - all be it effective.

    The only reason Beckham has amassed so many caps is because of his relationship with Sven, which quite frankly boarded on the bizarre at times.

    Beckham cannot and should not be regarded in the same category as Moore. Moore galvanised the England team and drove them, as far as possible, through tournaments. Beckham's inclusion in the team on the other hand, during major tournaments, has actually held the team back.

  • Comment number 66.

    Beckham-mania, pure hype, and English football has been obsessed with this hype for so long. I believe that managers pick him in the hope that some of his 'celebrity' dust will rub off on the team, oh and by the way he is not half bad, so its a win win situation.

    Beckham was barely average against Spain, IMHO he should not be playing. If England devoted half as much energy and effort (and expense) into some of the other younger players, we would see better development and other better players being generated.

    It is a real shame for other players that they are all too often overlooked, in the rush to pick Beckham.

    He will no doubt be in our 2010 side, the rest of the world will praise him in public and laugh in private, AND once again we will build him up, and he will fail to deliver anything special, as he always has, and England will again fall by the wayside for yet another World Cup.

  • Comment number 67.

    Im not even an England fan but the one game that stands out for me is THAT game against Greece.

    Beckham carried England that day and got you to the tournament.

    I think too often he is used as a scapegoat.

    He has been a loyal servant and deserves the joint out-field record.

    Though it would probably feel more deserving if he was still integral to the first team.

    On another note, I think that Wayne Rooney will break this record held by Beckham and Moore anyhow.

  • Comment number 68.

    I usually agree with most of your views, Phil, but on this occasion, I feel that your comments infer a clear lack of understanding as to the huge impact that David Beckham had had to the English game.

    When referring o past tournaments, you fail to mention the one-man show againstGreece; the fact that he is the only English player ot score in 3 seperate World Cups; and that has played for arguably the 3 best clubs in the world.

    David Beckham is a model professional. Despite his huge fame and fortune, he is both humble and respectful. Off the pitch, he has been a role model to many kids and a true ambassador for our English game.

    On the field, he has won every single club competition in the English game, as well as winning La Liga and the Spanish Super Cup.

    In the past, he has been nominated for World Player of The Year , as well as European Footballer of the Year, and on and both occasions finished 2nd.

    He has shown great charcater when dropeped from the England squad on numerous occasions.

    Lastly, last night's match underliined why Capello was right to pick Beckham and that he still has alot to offer the team. He came on in the 2nd half and created England's only chances - one from an excellent cross-field pass and the other from a brilliant run and through-ball to Carlton Cole. He played with no fear and was by far our best player.

    Phil, I think your article has done a huge disservice to a living legend of English football.

  • Comment number 69.

    This "debate" is just another excuse for the media to have a go at "Brand Beckham." Ian Wright put it correctly last night, it's up to the other players to step up to the plate, prove they are good enough and oust Beckham from the squad. He did include SWP as one of the players who hasn't proved his worth yet. Until then Beckham deserves his place, it's as simple as that.

    The comparison of number of caps is totally irrelevant, Beckham's caps have come over a longer period of time in a career peppered with injury, we simply play more games now. Any player good enough to have a 10 year career for England who is also relatively lucky with injuries will challenge the 108 caps in the future.

    Someone above stated that Beckham has never been considered a "Top 5" player, in his career he has won "UEFA Club Player of the Year" in 1999 and was in the offical "FIFA Team of the Tournament" in France 98. He must have done something right...

  • Comment number 70.

    Both would make my all time England 11 easily.

  • Comment number 71.

    A pub argument / debate which will never be settled, partly because most bloggers weren't alive to see the great Bobby Moore play at all ,never mind in his outstanding World Cups.
    Anyway, this is about 'caps' which are awarded by the Manager and his backroom , based on players availability / quality /consistency/contribution and competition for a place. In most counts David Beckham was selected before other players on merit. Sorry to say the 'others' weren't good enough or spent too long in the pub or being oafish !
    I tend to agree with #41, David Beckham is the best of his era. Well done and good luck to him.
    I won't be alive, but I truly want a 'Bobby Moore' ( or Charlton ) again in an English shirt, a player who can excel at the very highest level and can really ' play'.
    In the era of big egos and fat wallets, it is unlikely.
    Last night Beckham was again the best on show in the second half, he put Lampard in particular to shame.

  • Comment number 72.

    Beckham is far higher rated for his ability in other countries than ours and I think this taints his representation here.

    Xavi, is arguably the single best passer of the ball in world football right now and he recognised Beckham's talent.

    The ability to pass a ball like he does, is far more appreciated across the continent than his ability to be fast, or score goals.

    Off the pitch he invests in football academies across the world, he acted as a diplomat to our Olympics bid and continues to promote English football.

    Bobby Moore and David Beckham are two different players but there is no doubt in my mind that they are both legends of their time.

    Moore was the pinacle of success, Beckham is the posterboy for good, hard, English work ethic.

    I'm proud of Beckham, I congratulate him and I will never berate his performance ever again. He's proved himself time and time again and I do not need to question him ever again.

    I hope to see Beckham play for us for a few more years to come, even as an impact sub because I'd never want anything less than a professional and he's certainly that.

  • Comment number 73.

    Thanks once again for the great responses - well reasoned and plenty of arguments for and against.

    This is certainly a debate worth having.

    I was actually thinking while writing this blog (a simple fact which in itself that may come as a surprise to many of you) - is it fair that we use the greatness of Moore as a benchmark for Beckham?

    And my own view on his 108 caps is that this is merely a number in these modern days of so many internationals.

    Beckham is also accused of taking advantage of the commercial aspects of his celebrity, but we should remember this.

    Bobby Moore was actually the face of a 1960s advert for a "Look In At Your Local" campaign - advocating the pleasures of going to the pub after the match for a game of darts with your wife.

    It is available on youtube for any doubters.

    Given Moore's golden boy image and his status as the man who captained England to the World Cup, just imagine the commercial possibilities he could have been offered if it had happened in the modern era?

  • Comment number 74.

    Another thing to remember is that Beckham has won most of his England caps in competitive matches. Moore won more than a quarter of his playing against Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  • Comment number 75.

    In response to poster 46.
    In my humble opinion, Poster 38 hit the nail on the head !

  • Comment number 76.

    Silly debate. Yes.
    But full marks to most people who are making sensible arguments without the usual rants.
    And easily settled debate too really.
    Would Beckham be in most pundits best ever team? Nah.
    Would Moore? Not for definite but probably.

  • Comment number 77.

    Between 99 and 01 Beckham was in the top 3 players in the world. He was in devestating form as he helped United win 3 League Titles, a European Cup and an FA Cup. I have never seen a better crosser of the ball than Beckham. Has anyone else?

    Of course Beckham is not an all time great for what he did on the field though. He was very good and has come back from some pretty bad moments but he didn't lead England to wolrd cup glory and didn't produce his best form often enough for England. He was fantastic for a while but not a legend.

    Moore was one of the best players in the world AND produced on the biggest stage of all. This is the big difference.

    People shouldn't get so wound up by modern players having the same amount of caps as past legends. The are more games to play these days and caps do not always relate to quality or acheivements. They just relate to number of games played. They are a statistic. Thats it.

    Beckham was fantastic. Thank you. Moore was a legend. Thank you.

  • Comment number 78.

    I had a brief encounter with Bobby Moore in January 1966. On a motorcycle in London on 9 December, the day before West Ham-Newcastle (3-4, I think), I was run down by a car and received near-fatal injuries. I was told I'd be three months in hospital, couldn't stand it, got discharged and travelled to Newcastle, in plaster and on crutches. NUFC let me in through the players tunnel for the return game, I went to the Gallowgate end, found it too much and returned to the tunnel before half-time. Before leaving, I intended to ask Moore to sign my plaster. It seemed a nothing match from the terrace, but when Moore came off I saw that he had put in great effort, and didn't speak to him. I was also amazed at his physique - I was pretty fit with football, rugby, middle distance running and cross-country, but had never realised as a spectator just how physically developed the top players were.

    A great player, I like Beckham but wouldn't put him in the same league as Moore.

  • Comment number 79.

    You cant honestly compare the two over world cup trophies, yes Moore may have claimed the worlds greatest prize as captain of an England team worthy of winning it, Beckham may have not, but this is largely due to the team around him.
    An example is the legendery Paolo Maldini, few can argue he's one of Italys greatest players, he holds the record number of caps for Italy with 126 yet as a captain never lifted the trophy, even though Italy won the World cup in 82 and 06, its not his individual fault, the team were simply not the best around at that time, in the era he was playing. As others have stated, Moore and Beckham are from different eras so cannot be compared, they both have given there best and deserve individual credit.
    One final note, is it even that important? who cares how many games someone plays for a country, its not important in league football its all about goals and skills, so why is it so hyped up on an international level?
    Beckham, continue the good work...

  • Comment number 80.

    This is such a civilised forum compared with 606!!

    I don't want to continue the praise about Beckham's attitude but to comment on his ability.

    He's been picked consistently by 3 (SAF, SG and FC) of the top managers in the world,(that McClaren dropped him is almost enough evidence!) and now a 4th.

    He was a lynchpin of the Utd team that won, in serious style, the champions league, he was the fan's favourite at Real Madrid before he led them to the League title and now he's being selected (at age 33) for AC Milan.

    To have won a place in 3 of the top clubs in the world has to say something that us punters aren't really recognising about his ability.

    Maybe if wasn't so good looking (damn him) and looked more like rooney or messi then people would concentrate more on his footballing skill.

    Was he/ is he as good as Bobby Moore? Very difficult to say but he certainly achieved much more at club level and has been the most consistent and reliable england performer for over 10 years now - he deserves every accolade that comes his way.

  • Comment number 81.

    Phil McNulty blog 10/02

    "Fabio Capello does not deal in the cheap currency of hype and jingoism - so when he declares he has "big confidence" as England prepare to face Euro 2008 holders Spain in Seville he can be taken at his word.

    Now, faith in the Italian's iron discipline and tactical adaptability is so strong that it is unlikely many will take issue with Capello's belief that England can flourish against the team ranked number one in the world by Fifa.

    It is a chance for England to demonstrate how far they have travelled since that night when they were embarrassed by the technical ability of their opponents, despite the narrow victory margin.

    This makes the friendly - another word Capello struggles to find in his footballing glossary - a perfect opportunity for England to measure their progress against the standard of opposition they will need to conquer to claim the game's biggest prize in South Africa next year.

    England's win in Germany was built on the basic principles of a coach picking a well-balanced team containing players with total confidence in his methods. The secret lay in Capello's simplicity.

    Germany also fielded a weakened team, but the performances of Gareth Barry and Michael Carrick in midfield, plus Stewart Downing's finest England display demonstrated Capello's motivational and organisational powers.

    Capello himself wants England to be tested by the best around before they travel to South Africa. He will use Wednesday as a yardstick for the development of his England squad.

    Rio Ferdinand subscribes to this theory and insists England "can beat anyone on the planet".

    These were words we heard often under Sven-Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren, but there is a different dynamic in this England squad. The notion that players are simply paying lip service to the idea of world domination is fading - under Capello they actually believe it."

  • Comment number 82.

    Who has played longest for England? Bobby More. How many more minutes will Beckham have to play to beat More's record?

  • Comment number 83.

    Yet again a press-generated debate that does not need to really take place.

    Why do people feel the need to compare two great players from two different eras who play in different positions ?

    Moore needs no new praise added to him - he was exceptional, the only English player to have lifted the World Cup and a player worthy of sitting alongside the greats the game has offered with his poise on and off the pitch.

    Beckham may not sit alongside the Cruyffs, Pele's and Maradona's of this world in terms of natural ability, but in terms of graft at his craft he has surely been a beaming example. It is ironic that as the first 'showbiz' footballer, people and especially young kids aspire to that side without realising the hard work he has clearly put in to stay at the top that long. And he hasn't forgotten what got him to the place he is in, and you can tell he still loves football. His move to Milan is not about money but about wanting to have played at the top level in three of the best leagues the world has to offer for three of the biggest teams in the world. This is quite an achievement and rather than concentrate on the negatives such as the red card in 1998, or the injured performance in 2002 - why don't we focus on the fact we wouldn't have been at the latter if it wasn't for Beckham ?

    And if the debate is, as seems the case, do caps make a player better ? Then surely just looking at George Best's 37 caps to Iain Dowie's 57 caps prove that isn't the best judge of a player !

  • Comment number 84.

    i'm not a believer in comparing players from different eras. it's kind of pointless.
    moore was a great player. beckham was, at his best, very good.
    also, with more internationals being played nowadays, 108 caps isn't the achievement it was back then.

    one thing i must take exception to is:
    "Beckham jumped out of a tackle just before the interval, a moment that led to Rivaldo's crucial equaliser".

    had beckham NOT jumped out of the 2 pronged tackle, i believe he would never have kicked a ball again. also, this incident was well enough inside the opponents half, and there were plenty of england players between beckham and the england goal who could or should have stopped the attack!
    nobody in their right mind, or with a basic grasp of football, could possibly blame beckham for that goal. so let's put it to bed once and for all...ok!
    also, was one of the penalties quoted the one with the crumbly penalty spot that undid other penalty takers-not just beckham???

  • Comment number 85.

    Moore will be remembered as a great footballer, Beckham as a footballing superstar born of the age of celebrity worship.

    The caps tally flatters Beckham as England play a lot more these days.

    There were occasions, especially under SGE when Beckham's game was an embarrassment. Stupid long glory balls that usually gave possession back to the opposition. This was in the days when he really believed he had the potential to be a great central midfielder and SGE believed him. His best contributions were for MU when SAF told him very clearly to play the wing and stay there.

    Beckham is a nice lad but never a footballing great as was Moore.

  • Comment number 86.

    if beckham was barely average against spain-what does that make the rest of the team?

    he was as good as any england player last night!

    also, the players looking to take his place aren't really staking much of a claim, are they???

  • Comment number 87.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 88.

    I have to disagree with much of what you wrote regarding Beckham-a good but never great player even for his club.

    A great example of the itch- an example of unbridled greed and commercialism, oh and shagging a shady Euro bird while he is married and a father - not criminal but hardly classed as good.
    On the field leving aside endless indifferent performances where his lack of technique, cannot tackle and no pace aways showed against class oposition he managed to make majr contrinutions to getting us ejected from finals -sent off, missed penalties, chickening out of tackles .His scoring record from fre kicks is not good as he took every single ne and well we all know about his penalties.
    In what should have been his last game fr England he was so unfit he through up n the pitch and when substituted threw his captains armband to the ground -not even bothering to hand it to his bestfriend Gary Neville who was taking over. Funny that clip snt shown much

    I am not a West Ham fan and much f Moore was before my time but there is NO comparison at all and Beckhams caps are absurd when considered against the contribtions made by many of his England contemparies

  • Comment number 89.

    Beckham will never equal Bobby Moore or Bobby Charlton but deserves respect and recognition. He was clearly left without reason for appetite at times and a generally poor performer in major tournaments but has always kept himself fit (does not drink or smoke) and at least earlier in his England captaincy seemed to carry the team.

    It's a shame he was wrapped in cotton wool by Sven and bought by Real Madrid as a shirt seller. It would have been easy to stay in LA and be comfortable with the Loveies. No he wants to fight for his place and still be a part, which I think he still can be, as player and inspiration. For that at least David, I salute you.

  • Comment number 90.

    In response to post 54, of course Beckham achieved more for his club than Moore did. When Beckham was with Man u, they were the richest club on the planet, with the best players in the World. When Moore played for West Ham, they were (and still are) small fry, yet he still managed two trophies with the club in two years.
    Clubs aside Moore is an absolute legend who deserves a knighthood. Furthermore he was impecible both on and off the pitch. People have been talking about what a role model and ambassador Beckham is, but Moore deserves such praise too.
    As for football skills there is no comparison, Moore wins it everytime. He knew his weaknesses and worked hard on them, I fear the same cannot be said for Beckham. If he does, there is certainly no evidence of it on the pitch!

  • Comment number 91.

    Beckham and Moore both have the same number of caps. That is where the equality lies.
    I wonder how people can say that Beckham is/was the best English player when he never was the best English player even at United? Paul Scholes was a much better player but because he avoided the circus nobody outside football gave him much credit.
    If Sven had dropped Beckham and played Scholes, Joe Cole, Lampard/Gerrard and Hargreaves, England would have done much better. People, keep talking about the free kick against Greece and nobody even remembers poor Ole Teddy who got the other important goal.
    Beckham was an honest pro who worked very hard, had a very good right foot. That is all. The rest is all hype.
    Bobby Moore, played in a different level. Ask most people who have seen both players and you would get this answer.

  • Comment number 92.

    As you say Phil, a comparison is pointless as the game has changed (mostly for the worse) so much since Bobby Moore's days. The main factor is that Moore was excellent in all 3 of his World Cups, winning one of them. He was also heralded undisputedly as the best defender in his position the World over for the period covering the latter 2 of his World Cups. Beckham has never been so regarded. Without the modern day media hype i strongly doubt Beckhams stock would have reached the level it has.

    Having said all of the above the fella is a top professional and looked about the best englishmen on the field last night in his 30 mins or so.. The rest are largely a bunch of donkeys, 'legends' in their own minds only.

  • Comment number 93.

    Does winning the world cup make you a better player? Does that mean that George Best, one of the best footballers ever to play in the English league, does not qualify to compete for being a great player? Beckham may not have been as good as Moore but to suggest its no contest is quite wrong. If the rest of the England team had been up to class i think beckham would have been the driving force behind possible world cup challenges.

  • Comment number 94.

    When David Beckam pulls on the England shirt I am so glad and proud to be English. Can you imagine how envious other nations are of us, that we have an ambassador and player who is so proud of his country and will sweat blood and tears for us.
    I'm too young to remember Bobby Moore playing for us but all reports and other people's memories tell me that he was in the same mould as Becks. Maybe every generation will have a Moore and Becks. Lets hope so.

  • Comment number 95.

    Please stop. To even mention DB in the same breath as the legend is travesty.
    Maybe in the modern era you can single Beckham out but please stop the comparisons with Mooro.
    If you are going to base opinion on number of caps alone, just try and work out how many meaningless friendlies we have nowadays, deduct them and DB is nowhere near.

  • Comment number 96.

    Phil - you are a bad man.. you know the chaos you are going to cause... i like your mischief..

    Thanks for (trying) to write a balanced article on this... My tuppence worth is that it is a record that has no real weight or significance other than to show that player a has played x times for England... 1 cap or 108 or 208 caps do not say that a player is better/worse/more deserving/has a better haircut/etc...

    Moores and Beckhams and even Shiltons records will go... and possibly not by players who are deemed better at the time... but it is irrelevant.... Bobby Charlton is ARGUABLY Englands best ever player... but it shouldn't mean that no-one can ever get more caps than him unless they are viewed by 100% of the nation to be "better" than's crazy to even think that way!

    I love Beckham - and think he is a class player and professional... even a class act as a person... but would never say he is a better player than Moore... not that it actually even matters...

    Bobby Moore achieved something that no other Englishman has done before nor will do again... He won the world cup for England for the first time..and with it being in England made it even more special... If Beckham, Rooney, my grandchild, whoever gets more caps they can't better that achievement..howver it doesn't diminish their achievements either...

  • Comment number 97.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 98.

    Beckham was the only england player on the pitch who actually wanted the ball. he kept possession, sprayed the ball about, and created a great chance for carlton cole with a sublime pass. if that pass would have been made by xavi the commentators would have been drooling. beckhams cameo last night can serve as an allegory for the last ten yrs with england. Beckham (and to a lesser extent Owen) literally carried England to 3 World cups. yes he never scaled the heights he possibly could have done in tournament conditions, but come on, if England had Ronaldo in those tournaments we still wouldnt have progressed any further. Beckham is class, he doesnt hide when the chips are down, and has fought against adversity his whole career. its unfair to compare him to bobby moore. remember Moore had the likes of bobby charlton, alan ball and geoff hurst in his team. Beckham has literally been England on his own for 10 yrs!Beckham i salute you

  • Comment number 99.

    Firstly I have absolutely no doubt that, like myself, most people on this thread have only seen Bobby Moore up the '66 world cup final so making comparisons is unfair.

    David Beckham has been Englands most important player of the last 10 years. I agree he didnt perform to his potential at major tournaments but even then he was still one of our best players most of the portugal for expample he set up or scored 75% of our goals, its all very well laying some of the blame on him for us going out when we did but we wouldnt have got to where we did in the first place if it wasnt for him!!!

    And its not Beckhams fault England havent had the players to win a world cup in his era - Bobby Moore didnt win it on his own, he was surrounded by other world class players (of which he was the best but one man doesnt make a team!!)

    He is also, and please correct me if im wrong, the only englishman to score in 3 world achievement in itself.

    Another point people are making is that he's holding england back in the right mid position but who reallt deserves to replace him?? SWP and Arron Lennon, for all their tricks when they have the ball, usually end up giving the opposition a goal kick or a counter attack when they (almost always) lose it. Walcott im sure will get there but needs more time. Beckham, in a tournament almost guarentees us goals, scoring or creating, no one else in the current squad does. (including our strikers!!)

    Beckham should be remembered for what he has done for Engalnd and at club level (has anyone else palyed for Man U. Madrid and AC??), He loves the game from training to playing and puts a lot of time and money into developing youngsters, he is a legend in his own time and thats what his legacy should be - - - just like Bobby!!

    (a small aside, WHAT has Ashley Young got to get a game for England....i have no idea what Fabio (or anyone else) sees in Downing!!!!)

  • Comment number 100.

    Do you really know what angers me? Door handles. I mean what is the point.


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