David Beckham: Jack Rodwell wanted him in GB Olympic squad

 

Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell says he wanted David Beckham to be picked for Great Britain's Olympic football squad.

Beckham, 37, failed to make manager Stuart Pearce's final 18-man squad.

"Everyone in the squad would learn from David Beckham. He is a legend," Rodwell, 21, told BBC Radio 5 live .

Rodwell, who may miss out himself because of injury, added: "I think everyone is a bit surprised but the manager obviously has his reasons. I'd like to have seen him in the squad."

"Stuart Pearce is sure to feel a weight of criticism for his treatment of the enduringly popular Beckham for such a global event and many will believe his absence will damage the tournament.

"On purely football grounds, however, it is a decision based on sound logic."

Former England captain Beckham made Pearce's shortlist of 35 players but will not be one of three permitted players over the age of 23 picked to compete in the Olympics.

Pearce, who watched Beckham play for Los Angeles Galaxy in the United States last week, picked Manchester City defender Micah Richards ahead of him.

Richards has been included alongside Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs and Liverpool striker Craig Bellamy as the three over-age players.

Former Wales midfielder Robbie Savage backed the inclusion of his countrymen Giggs and Bellamy, but criticised Beckham's omission.

"It's appalling. He helped Great Britain get the Olympics," said Savage.

"To have him on the shortlist and string him along, effectively, is quite poor.

"He deserves more respect - he's been a fantastic ambassador for British football and has put the name of Britain across the world. With David Beckham in the Olympic squad, they would have had more of a chance."

Beckham, who signed a new two-year deal with American Major League Socccer (MLS) side LA Galaxy in January, was part of the Olympic flame handover ceremony in May, bringing it to Britain for the torch relay.

World Cup 1998 - Beckham off as England go out

He played a major role as a sporting ambassador when London won the 2012 bid, and made no secret of his desire to captain Team GB.

But former England midfielder Peter Reid backed Pearce's decision to exclude Beckham, who played 115 times for England.

"I'm surmising Stuart Pearce has picked the three [overage] players to give him the best chance of winning the gold medal," he said.

"From a pure football point of view, I tend to agree with the manager. David is playing in the MLS, which isn't the highest level of football.

"Ryan Giggs has more class on the football pitch than David Beckham, in my opinion."

Beckham had widely been expected to be selected, but ex-Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp said Pearce was prepared to take criticism for his decision.

Redknapp told The Sun  : "There is no doubt Stuart will have upset a few in high places. They would have loved to see Becks in there. I am surprised and sad that he isn't.

Beckham for club and country

  • 1993-2003 Man Utd: 265 apps, 65 goals
  • 1995 Preston North End (loan): 5 apps, 2 goals
  • 2003-2007 Real Madrid: 116 apps, 13 goals
  • 2007-present LA Galaxy: 99 apps, 13 goals
  • 2009/2010 AC Milan (loans): 29 apps, 2 goals
  • 1996-2009 England: 115 caps, 17 goals

"Stuart can kiss goodbye to a knighthood but credit for being brave. He is the manager and should be allowed to pick who he wants."

Former England striker Rodney Marsh said Pearce was in a no-win situation.

"He's always been football first and team first, and that's the way he played the game," said the ex-Manchester City player.

"David Beckham has made it difficult for everybody because he has been public about how much he wants to play. It's made it hard for Stuart Pearce and in my eyes, he's more of a man for making that decision."

The British Olympic Association expects to receive the final 18-man squad from the Football Association by early next week.

Team GB were drawn in Group A at London 2012 alongside Senegal, Uruguay and United Arab Emirates.

They begin their Olympic campaign against Senegal at Old Trafford on 26 July before facing the UAE at Wembley on 29 July, and Uruguay at the Millennium Stadium on 1 August.

Each squad must contain 15 players born after 1 January 1989.