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Sad for Beckham - but not England

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Phil McNulty | 08:54 UK time, Monday, 15 March 2010

The debate about David Beckham's place in England's World Cup squad is over. The question now is whether he will ever grace the highest level again.

As someone who consistently stated he should have no place in Fabio Capello's plans for South Africa, it would be hypocrisy on a grand scale to join the mourning that greets his absence after the serious Achilles tendon injury sustained playing for Milan against Chievo.

This, however, is the professional context. The personal part of this story dictates there must be sadness and sympathy for a consummate professional who had set his heart on becoming the first player to represent England at four World Cups.

Beckham will be understandably devastated as he flies to Finland on Monday for surgery on the injury every player dreads. It can strike at any time, often without an opposing player in the vicinity, as befell Beckham on Sunday, and can have career-threatening consequences.

And the biggest heartbreak of all will be the knowledge that he is unlikely to add to his 115 England caps. The dream conclusion to his career, holding the World Cup on 11 July in Johannesburg's Soccer City, will remain exactly that.

Beckham has shown remarkable powers of endurance before, rebuilding his England career after being exiled almost as a cosmetic exercise by then coach Steve McClaren following his resignation from the captaincy in tears in Baden-Baden after the World Cup exit in 2006.

This injury means there will be no more England comebacks.

David BeckhamBeckham waves to the Wembley crowd after October's World Cup qualifier against Belarus - Pic: Getty

He harboured ambitions of making one final significant contribution at a major tournament. Destiny, he hoped, would allow him to make up for his sending-off against Argentina at France 98, the injury-hit performances in Japan in 2002, the missed penalties and mediocrity of his showings in Portugal two years later and a relatively low-key contribution in Germany.

It was always a fanciful notion given his age and fading powers, but such is the reservoir of goodwill that remains for Beckham among England's followers that no-one would have begrudged him. Now he will not even take a place in the ranks as Capello prepares his troops to begin their campaign against the United States in Rustenburg on 12 June.

Beckham has willingly embraced the cult of personality and publicity, something which has not always sat easily. Only last Wednesday he showed his undimmed flair for promotion by draping himself in the green and gold scarf that is the symbol of the anti-Glazer protesters at Manchester United. Cue cameras and headlines.

In his defence though, he was more than prepared for the trade-off. Beckham has always been unfailingly polite with fans on England duty, even when we witnessed the almost suffocating adulation he was subjected to in Japan. He dealt with this attention with patience and dignity, adding to the popularity of the national side.

Beckham was the perfect ambassador for the England football team, although this was used by many of his supporters as almost the sole reason to justify his inclusion in South Africa.

Even now, having outlived his usefulness as a starter for England, he remains their most enduringly popular figure. Most of his recent international career has consisted of cameo caps and brisk trots down touchlines around the world, and yet they were always greeted with the loudest cheers, as against Egypt at Wembley recently.

And he will have moments that will deservedly warm him if this is the end of his elite career, such as the last-minute free-kick against Greece at Old Trafford that took England to the 2002 World Cup and the penalty against Argentina in the surreal and futuristic surroundings of Sapporo's Superdome in Japan.

England supporters revelled in those magical moments, whether they bought into brand Beckham or not.

When understandable sentiment and sympathy is set on on one side, what are we left with in the footballing context?

We are actually left with the brutal reality that England have actually lost a fringe squad player, someone who - barring exceptional circumstances - would not have started any game at the World Cup. This should not be forgotten should anyone wish to portray Beckham's injury as a serious wound to England's aspirations.

South Africa's conditions will lend themselves to the pace and thrust provided by the likes of Theo Walcott and Aaron Lennon, although the fact that the Spurs winger is still struggling for fitness should be a matter of greater concern to Capello than Beckham's absence.

Capello the pragmatist, given the choice, would take a fit Lennon over a fit Beckham and injury clouds over Ashley Cole and Rio Ferdinand are much more likely to make him rest uneasily.

Beckham was never big on acceleration, even in his pomp, and that has gone now. Could he have hurt the serious opponents England will hope to face in the closing stages of South African combat? I was never convinced.

And with Capello insistent he will play two strikers, thus consigning Steven Gerrard to his England role of moving in from the left side, serious thought must now be given to using Aston Villa's James Milner on the right if Lennon fails to recover and Walcott cannot rediscover his spark.

Milner can provide quality from that flank and has the adaptabilty that will make him a huge asset for England this summer. Sad though Beckham's injury is, it should not represent anything other than a minor concern for Capello as he crystallises his thoughts about his final squad.

And as the Beckham door closes, who is to say one may not open for an unlikely name? What about Manchester City's gifted Adam Johnson? Capello may focus his gaze on him more keenly now.

Those struggling to make a judgement call on whether Beckham should go to South Africa fell back on the default option that he would be "good to have around the squad." Fair point and he showed a humility in being happy to go back to being a squad member after relinquishing the office of captain. But these players are all seasoned professionals and the most important counsel they receive will always come from Capello, not Beckham.

Before this injury, I would have left Beckham at home anyway because England have to be confident enough about themselves not to feel the need to include someone purely on the basis they might win a free-kick or corner in a dangerous position.

As I have stated before, my respect for Beckham the professional has never waned, especially after the way he fought back to play for England again after watching him leave Baden-Baden in tears, but his time as a significant international influence had gone.

This purely footballing verdict should not preclude us from feeling sadness for Beckham that the target he has aimed pretty much all of his recent career at has been snatched away so cruelly in a second at the San Siro.

For England and Capello, however, it means the world can finally move on without David Beckham.

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Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.


  • Comment number 2.

    Beckham should still travel with the squad, not as a player but as a mentor and protector to the younger squad players.

    He could still provide a major influence to the squad on match days even though he isn't donning the white shirt.

  • Comment number 3.

    Very sad news for Beckham but as you say I do not think it is a tragedy for England.

    Would it be possible/plausible to bring him in an advisory role? he could be very useful behind the scenes.

  • Comment number 4.

    "purely on the basis they might win a free-kick or corner in a dangerous position"

    Surely all corners by their location on the pitch, are in a dangerous position?

  • Comment number 5.

    I feel although Beckham has lost the stength in his legs you require tobe a starter, he would still have been a valuable asset to have as a sub. You can talk about SWP, Lennon, Walcott as much as you like, - only Lennon of the three has improved his crossing and decision making. David Beckham guarantees you first rate crosses 9 times out of 10, as witnessed last Wednesday when Inzaghi may have profited and numerious other occasions.

    I would agree however he feel more so for him than youn do for England. He has gone to so many extra lengths than many others would dream of to try and secure his place on the plane, and to have this happen must be an almighty kick in the teeth for him.

    He probably won't be as dissapointed as he would have been four years ago, as he will realise his role in the team is more of a cameo role now, rather than being one of the main men - like at the last World Cup.

    On the other hand, you could say the pain will be worse as he will know this would have been you can say with 100% his final opportunity of playing in the World cup, and potentially perhaps a bit sceptacle here World Cup glory.

    Anyway dissapointed for Becks, especially as his hard work looked to have been rewarded with a flight ticket.

    Hard lines Becks!

  • Comment number 6.

    "Capello the pragmatist, given the choice, would take a fit Lennon over a fit Beckham "

    Not sure about that.

  • Comment number 7.

    Very bad for prospective revenue in South Africa.
    I couldn't care less about Team England.

  • Comment number 8.

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

  • Comment number 9.

    As you say, debate over. I agree with your opinion regarding whether Beckham should be in the squad but one can imagine what the media hype would have been like. As painful as this is, is it less painful than being 'left out'?

  • Comment number 10.

    Beckham will be a big loss in SA. Not as a starter maybe but as a sub who can bring something different to the game. I agree that Adam Johnson has to be given real consideration, he's two footed, has pace and much greater vision than Shaun (blind alley) Wright-Phillips.

    Beckham has been a great ambassador and role model, a more patriotic footballer would be difficult to find.

    I just wish him all the best and hope he can make a full recovery.

  • Comment number 11.

    I completely agree this is not a set back to england per se aside from teh motivation and experience DB would bring into teh dressing room.

    I would like to pick up on

    ...Walcott cannot rediscover his spark.

    being a regular follower of the gooners I can honestloy say i have been very impressed last 3 games by young TW, even when coming on as sub in last two games, yes he still has issues with final ball and getting his head up BUT for the first time since his injury he is now driving at players making them think.

    if he progresses as he has last month or so I see no reason he cannot get back up to teh dizzying heights he acheieved against croatia.

    james milner has demonstrated enough this season to be staking a good claim to act as an understudy should aaron and his comical way of teasing with his arms up running prove not to be able to walk onto the plane

  • Comment number 12.

    I believe injuries to Michael Owen and David Beckham(as unfortunate as they are)will come as a relief to Fabio Capello.
    Now he can choose the English team to the world cup in South Africa based on current form and not on sentiments.
    Plus England will be free of the media circus surrounding Beckham.
    Now if Mr Capello can just get rid of the WAGs,and keep Rooney fit England might just have a slight chance....

  • Comment number 13.

    "I would have left Beckham at home anyway because England have to be confident enough about themselves not to feel the need to include someone purely on the basis they might win a free-kick or corner in a dangerous position."
    Can you have corners that are not in a dangerous position?
    That aside, you brushed off the self-exclusion of Bridge and you do the same with Beckham. Perhaps Phil, you think England shouldn't bother with a squad, just take a starting eleven and a handful of subs?

  • Comment number 14.

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

  • Comment number 15.

    Fair enough phil, I tend to agree with you on some points but will pick holes in others like saying theo walcott comes before him in the pecking order, maybe Lennon yes but walcott i beg to disagree. The man can still perform at the top so your saying he is going to the world cup to just make the numbers is a great disservice to the man Beckham and amount of proffessionalism and positive contributions he makes while playing the beautiful game.

    Comparing him to his previous best wuldnt be fair but comparing him with inconsistent players who have not made their mark in the international stage shows how little you know about playing tournament football.

    Even the great Capello though also new in the international stage could not overlook the great advantages an English team would have he had to include the man he once used to bench in Madrid in his team.

    I'll like to stop here for now, while i wait for you to react to this comments.


  • Comment number 16.

    sad news but i definitely think beckham should still go to south africa
    he is a mentor to the younger players
    and should be in the dressing room before the game helping the players with his experience and passion for the game

  • Comment number 17.

    I said last night when the news broke “I think he’ll retire now”. All his efforts for the last couple of years have been to stay fit and firing for the occasion of the summer. Now, realistically, what does he have left to achieve?

    It’s a real shame for him as, regardless of your opinions of him and his merits in the team, he has always shown a passion and pride in the national side – sadly lacking in the current generation of ‘injured for Wednesday friendly, miraculously recovered for Saturday league game’ players.

    It would have been nice to see him at his fourth World Cup, be it cameo role or not, but sadly it’s not to be!

  • Comment number 18.

    I agree, really sad to see this happen to him but it has absolutely no bearing on this summer. Cole, Ferdinand, Lennon, Johnson etc are all much bigger worries than somebody who would only play a few minutes anyway.

  • Comment number 19.

    i have never really rated beckham as a player, that said, the england fans have a great affinity for him, so at the end of the day, it makes capello's job easier - at least he can take a quality player in beckhams place...

  • Comment number 20.

    His time as an England player is coming to an end anyway. His time as a player is coming to an end too - he's now only a bit part player at Milan.

    Joe Cole, Ashley Young, Lennon, Wright Phillips, Milner, Bentley, Walcott, they're the present and the future.

    It's thanks to Becks and all the best with whatever you do after football.

  • Comment number 21.

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

  • Comment number 22.

    Beckham is not a superman.He should have been resting instead of being out on loan.
    He should never have moved to play in the American Diddy League in the first place.He obviously did it for the money.
    He wanted to prove that he could still play well enough to be considered for England by playing for Milan.
    At 34 years of age it is not possible to play as much football as he has been doing without major wear and tear on his body.

  • Comment number 23.

    Phil- Your spot on with your comments regarding David Beckham.

  • Comment number 24.

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

  • Comment number 25.

    Show some bloody respect. Thanks David.

  • Comment number 26.

    Beckham will be a sad loss to England's squad no doubt about it.

    I disagree totally, on almost all levels with your opinion. Firstly, myour definition of 'fringe player' pays no attention to the fact that we already have injuries and in a WC, it is all about the squad- the collective.

    Beckham has plied his trade in a central role and has showed that even if he does play on the 'wing', he has a technique to cross the ball and bring in other players that is world class, let alone good enough for England.

    He was always going to be a squad player if taken to the WC, but an extremely valuable squad player who is charismatic, an ex-captain, leading outfield capped player, and a play Capello knows in-side out.

    He has the experience to impact on games quickly with his vision and passing. He has some of the best delivery and passing in the England squad, and is respected amongst similar players of his ilk as bringing something different. He's no longer the best in the world, but adds a different dimension to England that would get him on the plane for sure.

    Ask any other international manager if they would have included Beckham in their England Squad, and i am sure the answer will be a resounding YES.

    First post BTW, and have been reading yur blogs for a while, not Phil bashing, everyone else can do that, just think you have overlooked what football is about and what a player like Beckham can give England's squad in the WC. You seem more like a teenage-PES player, scouting the fastest, youngest talents. Beckham has a rare talent that would miss your eye...

  • Comment number 27.

    "As painful as this is, is it less painful than being 'left out'?"

    That's a good point. I think Beckham would have played a part but he would have been used primarily as a minor substitute and not as a core member of the team. That alone may have been a blow for him after all he's done to keep himself in contention. Having said that, the fact he'll never know for sure may well play on his mind for the rest of his life. If England go out early on again and Lennon or whoever is chosen is considered a disappointment, there will be thoughts in his mind that he could have been the difference. On the other hand, if England were to win the whole thing, Beckham would a) be gutted that he'd missed it, and b) wonder if maybe he was holding them down in the past (he wasn't).

    Either way, horrific injury and I just hope his career hasn't ended because of it.

  • Comment number 28.

    Phil, as with message 6, I have to pick you up on this:

    "Capello the pragmatist, given the choice, would take a fit Lennon over a fit Beckham "

    How do you know this? Do you have a contact within the England coaching set-up that has told you this definitively?

  • Comment number 29.

    Phil - I'm usually in agreement with the majority of your opinions but I can't share this one, for two key reasons:

    1) We need experienced heads to counterbalance the young players' inexperience. His knowledge and experience of tournament situations will be sorely missed, especially where young midfielders like Walcott, Lennon, SWP and Milner are concerned (delete as applicable once the squad is named).

    2) Has it escaped your attention that Rooney can't stop scoring headers at the moment?!

    It's an area of his game that has drastically improved and I can seriously imagine a scenario whereby we're chasing a result and Crouchy and Rooney are paired together to cause problems in the box. You need the best crosser in the world as an option to bring on and supply them - fact.

    I think his absence will be a factor if we go out because we haven't got the option to change our game. Simple.

  • Comment number 30.

    LABSAB9 wrote:
    "Capello the pragmatist, given the choice, would take a fit Lennon over a fit Beckham "

    Not sure about that.


    why?lennon was playing brilliantly before he got injured,and was crossing the ball really well,and at that time was my first choice to play on the right,ahead of everyone else,including beckham.beckham in previous tournaments mostly was a disappointment so i dont know why some ppl still think he is a big loss.i like the man but some ppl need to get real.

  • Comment number 31.

    Poor idolised millionaire. Any chance Lampard and Gerrard could follow suit? At least Becks might have scored a jammy free kick in the 2nd round vs Serbia or Germany (or even Australia), now its England out in round 2.

  • Comment number 32.

    Of course I do Labsab 9, I was just about to respond to you!

    Sorry I am at work so I only got the chance to look at that comment (216) 5 mins ago (so yes I had seen it) but figured as Phil had published a newer blog you would be on this so there would be little point replying!

    Thanks for the reply. And yes I do agree two of the prem's top strikers!
    I would concede Henry was the better all-round player but we were discussing finishing, and as your revised data showed they equal in the premiership atleast, with Ruud having the edge in Europe.

    Hope to continue at debate in this blog, thanks mate!

  • Comment number 33.

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

  • Comment number 34.

    I have to disagree. England are very reliant on the set piece - particularly against better sides - as we struggle to retain possession.

    It isn't pretty but the direct delivery into the box seems to be our best weapon against such sides. Corners, free kicks etc seem to bear fruit as we can exploit the aerial prowess of JT, Rio etc to upset defenders and create chances. Beckham is the best exponent of this ball into the box.

    Yes, Walcott is blessed with pace but so is Usain Bolt. Having seen Walcott on numerous occasions this year, I reckon the quality of Bolt's final ball wouldn't be too far behind Theo's.

    I agree that Beckham would not be a starter, but with 20 minutes to go in the knockout stages and England 1-0 down, Beckham's delivery would be a great weapon to have. And for that alone, I think we will miss him this summer.

  • Comment number 35.

    Beckham's replacements (Lennon, Wright-Phillips, Bentley, Walcott, etc) have had 4 (Four) years to make the right sided position their own. None of them has managed to do that or even look capable of performing to the required level for every game. Injuries (Lennon for example) aren't an excuse. For every good game he had, he had 2 bad ones. If they can't manage to make that position their own after 4 years then they never will.

    Adam Johnson is an interesting thought. He could solve 2 problems since he can also play on the left. He's been playing first team football for most of the season. I'd say that if he plays a significant part in Manchester City's final games then he's worth considering. People may liken his inclusion to that of Walcott 4 years ago, but if he can get first team experience at Manc City under his belt - and play well - I think he's worth being called into the preliminary squad at least.

    Gutted for Beckham. He deserved a better send-off. Supporters love him because he always gave 100% when so many around him seemed to lack that motivation.

  • Comment number 36.

    16. At 11:58am on 15 Mar 2010, james wrote:
    sad news but i definitely think beckham should still go to south africa
    he is a mentor to the younger players
    and should be in the dressing room before the game helping the players with his experience and passion for the game

    The plane, maybe. The dressing room? Not so sure on that one. How would SWP / TW feel with Becks in the corner watching on, and how would he feel for that matter?

    I'm with Scouser4life on this one - Fabio knew what Becks was still capable of, and compared to the options we've got I think this is still a setback for SA 2010.

  • Comment number 37.

    I agree on most these points Phil, but I think you have overlooked Beckham's influence in the squad. When he resigned as England captain, he didn't stop being a leader and role model to his international team mates. Despite the absence of any blistering pace, Beckham still has excellent footballing intelligence, good distribution and a strong team-working ethic. Although he couldn't make an arguement to start for England, there are few players better than Beckham to bring on in the final 10-15 minutes to weave some magic.

    Sad loss to the squad and fingers crossed his recovery goes smoothly

  • Comment number 38.

    Totally disagree. David Beckham is the only player apart from Rooney who is actually prepared to stand up and be counted. None of the others seem to care or play with their hearts when it comes to England. Carragher and Scholes are a good example i think they should be ashamed of themselves for not wanting to be part of something that every kid who has ever kicked a football dreams of.

    I'd rather see a place in the squad for for Beckham on crutches than waste if with Lampard who can't even convert a simple tap in.

  • Comment number 39.

    Correct England have lost a fringe player and tbh his absence has no bearing on englands chances at the world cup. Sympathy for him and his injury as he has tried to stay in shape. But with Owen gone and beckham out its time to move on and bring in fresh younger talent. Look at Johnsons curler yesterday against sunderland thats the future.

  • Comment number 40.

    I am stunned I couldn't agree with you more Phil. But for my money, Phil Brown losing his job is a bigger headline than England losing a sub, yet judging by the headlines, God has died, oh an angel or two got the boot as a side note.
    I already made the point this morning on 606, you cannot at 34 years of Age play seasons back to back and expect not to be injured.

  • Comment number 41.

    Phil can you tell me when Beckham has not been one of the best few players for england in his time as a sub or starter, even when he comes on he is usually one of the nest performers and important players on the pitch- this was shown again in the milan game. However, I blame Capello for this.... making Beckham go to milan and play more without break than any other players with his ridiculous must play week in week out policy, by that logic lets leave out Cole, Ferdinand, Lennon- Lets just hope he gets fired after the world cup.
    Also on form even in the last 2 years Beckham has been consistently better for england that Lampard and Gerrard, I can not understand why you are so against him- its clear you are and is very irritating.

  • Comment number 42.

    To be fair to Beckham, he went to the US because at the time he was squeezed out at Real Madrid. Perhaps the way he dealt with Galaxy when things turned wasn't great (although one of his biggest critics then has just had a nice spell at Everton and has taken back what he said) but I do think his intentions were fair.
    I would have taken him, for the fact he gives us something different (what's the point in having a target man like Crocuh or Heskey when no one can put a decent ball to them?), but he wouldn't have been a starter. Lennon if he's fit and Walcott if he builds on his form from the last couple of matches (he has a blinder last weekend and made an impact coming on this weekend) would both have been starters before Beckham, but having a squad is as much about having options as it is about having spare bodies.

  • Comment number 43.

    Milner, Milner, Milner. He has been easily the most consistent England player this season (bar Rooney of course) and has improved a ridiculous amount since leaving us to join Villa.

    I can't believe people are still even mentioning SWP.

    Can't help feeling sad for Beckham though.

  • Comment number 44.

    Totally agree with this article, i honestly believe we have 5 better right midfielders than Beckham. He constantly gets over the top praise from the commentators when England play and it is ridiculous.

    Feel sorry for him personally, but from a football point of view this is a blessing in disguise.

  • Comment number 45.

    Fringe player, what nonsense! Beckham was key to winning matches. What we will now see is England taking the lead, then simply hoofing the ball from defence back to the opposition. Beckham (under Capello's guidance) stopped this dead in it tracks, this is why Capello continued to play him. England are world renowned for not being able to defend a lead and there is not a single English player that can bring this composure to our game. So when we are in the quarters booting the ball aimlessly into midfield while we remain pinned in our own box waiting for Rooney to be sent off: remember Beckham was the only player that could have prevented this.

  • Comment number 46.

    I agree with most of the comments on here and Phil aswell. However, i will say that Beckham would have been a great potential sub/impact player to have. I could see him providing crosses for Crouch when its 1-1 vs Germany for the winning goal for example. His crossing in this sense will be missed and no other current England player has this at their disposal, so plan Beckham is no longer available and i would say thats not a massive blow but i would prefer to have had it available (if i was an England fan :)

  • Comment number 47.

    #10 "I agree that Adam Johnson has to be given real consideration, he's two footed,"

    I believe all footballers are two footed... ;)

  • Comment number 48.

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

  • Comment number 49.

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

  • Comment number 50.

    Beckhams role and influence has been gretley under estimated, this is a very big hit for England, and may be the differnce of us winning the cup!

  • Comment number 51.

    The squad might miss Beckham's crossing and experience, but I agree with the mention of Adam Johnson. Surely he offers much more threat than someone like Downing. He can beat players with pace and skill and his end product is excellent. I would take Johnson, Lennon, Walcott and maybe Young.

  • Comment number 52.

    A Blog about England that does not mention Rooney, I can't quite beleive it Phil. I'm gonna have to watch that rival news channel now, you know begins with an S and ends in ky sports news, to get my daily dose of Rooney hype ;-)

  • Comment number 53.

    While I agree, that Beckham is past his best, I would have thought that 2 or 3 of his pin point crosses could have met Wayne Rooney's newest weapon - his head.

  • Comment number 54.

    Dont get where youre coming from here Phil. Weve lost a pivota member of our squad. Not just someone who can come on and create a goal out of nothing when were playing poorly but someone who could come on to sure our midfield up should we be winning a tough game. Lennon is out, SWP is erratic and Theo has yet to prove any consistency so really i think youre underplaying just how important someone like Becks (who always produces) is to our cause. Quite honestly the World Cup is over for us before its even began. We have no Lennon, no Becks, No A Cole, no Bridge to replace him and two center backs who are looking off the pace and will get terrorised at world level. Add to that we dont have a def mid, our main att mid J Cole never gets played and we dont have a keeper we can be entirely confident in and quite honestly i dont see how we even have the remotest of chances come June. The only way we win this tourney is if Rooney grabs it by the scruff of the neck and takes us there on his back single handedly

  • Comment number 55.

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

  • Comment number 56.

    Very sad news - Beckham has been a great player and a wonderful ambassador for England. One can't hope but wish that the doctors have got it wrong and that he is playing again and sooner than expected. I agree with some of the earlier comments that consideration should be given to keeping on Beckham in a mentor capacity for younger players - his attitude and experience should not be too quickly disregarded. For all the ballyhoo players like Beckham have helped grow the game and many people who follow and play the sport do so because of his example and influence.

  • Comment number 57.

    '... and a relatively low-key contribution in Germany'.

    Interestingly it was Beckham's free-kick that led to the own goal that gave England a 1-0 victory over Paraguay in the opening game.

    It was from Beckham's cross that Peter Crouch scored England's decisive opening goal against Trinidad & Tobago in the second game.

    It was Beckham's 30 yard free-kick that gave England a 1-0 win against Ecuador in the second round.

    But then you were reporting at the World Cup Phil, so you would have remembered all this.

  • Comment number 58.

    Phil has disliked Beckham for a while now. His comments about the scarf being about promotion rather than genuine support for the fans (which is what most ManU supporters think) bare it out.

    Sad for Becks. He has tried to get there. Whether he should have gone, I don't know. Probably not. But only Milner has sufficient quality to replace his midfield play. Walcott hasn't made the grade yet. Nor Lennon. Both are close and just need a run of form/fitness. Dont even bother with SWP.

  • Comment number 59.

    Shame for Beckham but probably good news for Capello. This injury negates the need for him to make a decision over Beckham and the media hype that would go with it regardless of his decision.

  • Comment number 60.

    Beckham probably was a squad player , but there is still no-one in the England side who can cross a ball as well as him. He may not be able to beat players with his pace or dribbling ability but when you can drop a ball straight on to the head of a forward from 50 yards you don't need that ability.

    Take Man City yesterday. Two possible imcumbents for the right side in Johnson and Wright-Phillips neither of them could beat the first man with a cross. Yes, Johnson scored a wonder goal but surely as a winger his attributes must inlcude being able to deliver a good ball after beating your man as well.

    I also think your view of Capello is naive. I doubt for one second that Capello picks him out of sentiment. The very reason he is playing in Milan is because Fabio would not pick him on a name.

    I think England WILL miss him simply because he has the ability to change a game with one pass in the way that others can with dribbling ability. He was agood option to have on the bench and lets be honest England do not have many game-changers do they?

  • Comment number 61.

    "Beckham has always been unfailingly polite with fans on England duty"

    Couldn't agree more with this statement and the post. As someone who is not a fan of his, my abiding memory will be of him after the debacle of the Croatia game being the only player to stay behind and applaud the fans. He's one of the only players to truly appreciate and show his appreciation of the fans, perhaps because of what he went through after France 1998. I hope he doesn't come back to football at all, he'll only be a shadow of his former-self (which is what he currently is anyway).

    As for the player on the right, I think Milner could be first choice. Given his defensive qualities I think him and Johnson would dovetail very nicely. Actually I do keep thinking Gerrard should be out on the right, but Capello doesn't seem minded that way, if not Gerrard then Milner.

  • Comment number 62.

    Completely Clueless McNulty:

    'Destiny, he hoped, would allow him to make up for his sending-off against Argentina at France 98, the injury-hit performances in Japan in 2002, the missed penalties and mediocrity of his showings in Portugal two years later and a relatively low-key contribution in Germany'

    In those tournaments he became the only Englishman to play and score in 3 world cups.

    He was consistently England's key performer and you have the absolute audacity to pinpoint Beckham as the misser of penalties!? - Try the whole squad!!

    You are as bad as all the haters.

  • Comment number 63.

    Phil - Well I have to agree with everything you write here. And that is a first!

    Due to differing circumstances (though not through lack of effort) he never delivered consistently in major tournaments. He is a bit part fringe player in the squad nowadays with a hugely disproportionate amount of focus relative to his recent England footballing contribution.

    I wish Beckham all the best in the future. Very difficult to dislike the bloke and can't say that about some of the England squad.

  • Comment number 64.

    So David Beckham, an AC Milan regular and best passer of the ball in the world won't be missed, and we're better off with either a regularly injured Tottenham winger or an unproven runner who struggles to get into the Arsenal lineup (while Sol Campbell has no problems despite giving away a flurry of penalties...). Right.

    If Frank Lampard was the one suffering this injury, I'd agree it removes a selection headache, losing Beckham reduces the tactical flexibility of the squad. And while the English nation may simply shrug off the loss of Beckham from the England squad, I imagine a number of other nations are quite relieved to see our options reduced. Specifically this particular option.

  • Comment number 65.



  • Comment number 66.

    This may be a blessing in disguise for England !

    I think Becks should go as a member of the "so called administrators" PR work.

    As for his playing ability, I have never been his BIGGEST fan even when he was at his best.

    I am gutted for him on a personal level though.

    It seems the usual injury hoodoo is striking England again ahead fo a World Cup !

    As long as Rooney stays fit..... and on form.... (this coming from a CTID fan!)

    England will still win the world cup.

    We just need JT injured now and the Sleasea bunch are all but out, so our Aussie press would need to dig further to dig up the dirt !

  • Comment number 67.

    How can Beckham have made a low key involvement in the last world cup? He set up the goal that beat Paraguay, he provided the cross for Crouch to send us on our way against T & T. Then in the quarters, scored the only goal of the game. Beckham would still have had a role to play at this World Cup, as part of a plan B excercise maybe, keeping the ball and putting crosses in. Anyway all academic now....

  • Comment number 68.

    Utter rubbish!

    You follow up your daft burbling about Wayne Bridge with this. Why would it have been such a bad thing for Beckham to go to the World Cup instead of;

    (a) Theo Walcott - Had an awful season, no form at all. Not even a regular in the Arsenal starting line up.
    (b) Aaron Lennon - Injured.
    (c) Shaun Wright-Phillips - Not had a good season either, no real form. Again, not a cast iron regular in the City starting line up.

    I think you need to get over the fact that it is actually ok to take a 35 year old experienced international to the World Cup to be a squad player. You knew what you were getting from Beckham, he was still doing it at Milan. Walcott and Wright-Phillips would not get into the Milan side on current form!!!

    Milner is having a great season, but is unproven at international level, even European club level really if we're being honest.

    I would have taken Lennon if fit and Beckham.

  • Comment number 69.

    People love fairy tales and this was meant to be a fairy tale season for Beckham. Sadly it was not to be.

    First he didn't win the MLS with Galaxy (although they were runners up and did win their regional title).
    Then he didn't score against United on his comeback visit (although it was a magnificent volley that would have been a contender for goal of the season had it gone in).
    It's looking unlikely that AC Milan will overtake Inter to get the Serie A title (although they have improved their position since he rejoined them).
    Now there's no chance of a World Cup Medal. He won't even be there to contribute on the pitch.

    Much as I feel sorry for him, and although people may decry his motives, he has put himself out considerably these last two seasons to stay in contention for a place in the squad.
    However I feel more sorry for the British public. We have been denied a fitting end to his career. A story that could have been told over and over for the next 50 years (like 1966). A story that every film maker would be clamouring to make, and one that we would want to go to watch.

    Sadly, fairly tales are just that, fairy tales.

  • Comment number 70.

    People talk about money, endorsements and celebrity, but all David Beckham has worked for over the last few years - playing in another World Cup - has been cruelly snatched away.

    It must be devastating for the player who, despite the media circus all around him, has always remained the consummate professional.

    Beckham needs to be with the England squad in South Africa. If, as has been widely touted, he was going to be a bit-part player, his influence, motivation and passion could be used just as effectively in a behind-the-scenes role.

    I still believe he had all the skills and commitment, not to mention the best right wing cross in world football, to really make an impact in South Africa.

    Now David will have to be given the chance to work his magic off the pitch.

  • Comment number 71.

    "his sending-off against Argentina at France 98, the injury-hit performances in Japan in 2002, the missed penalties and mediocrity of his showings in Portugal two years later and a relatively low-key contribution in Germany."

    Great examples of why England will never succeed. Critical and negative reporting from the media as always. South Africa will be the same, I am sure the media will have ruined the hype, expectation and morale of the squad before we even get there.

    Still, got to make money and sell stories I guess...

  • Comment number 72.

    McNulty is wrong, picture the scene, 2 - 1 down, fifteen minutes to go, and you need to do something to shake things up. There is no one better, whether it be a pin point pass the length of the pitch, a free kick from an impossible angle or range, or just plain commitment to the shirt on his back, Beckham would be the obvious substitute to put on. The right midfield position is very weak anyway, who is first choice?, Wright Phillips. Gerrard, Joe Cole if Dowling plays on the left?, no, this is a big loss to England, we have lost a player who inspires the dressing room, and can change a game with one pass.

  • Comment number 73.

    # 12

    SPOT ON Mate !!

    Capello can pick Capello's team without the media trying to hype up has-beens !

  • Comment number 74.

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

  • Comment number 75.

    I have always totally disagreed with Phil on this. I think its a big loss as he gave us another option on the right.

    Theo, Lennon, Wright-Phillips are all variations of the same player. They have pace but often lack an end product.

    Milner is class and in my opinion is up there with Rooney and Drogba for the player of the season.

    I thought Beckham should be a shoe in as squad player. He delivers a cross better than anyone, as he proved against United last Wednesday. Some of the balls in caused all manner of problems and Inzaghi should have scored. With Rooney scoring so many with his head and the likes of Crouch I thought he would give a very different option, if the players with pace were having average performances which they often do with the exception of Milner.

    Add to this his professionalism and ability to soak up media pressure and I thought he was an ideal squad player.

    Now the media will concentrate entirely on Rooney and this can only be to his detrament, even though he seems much more comfortable with the spot light.

    To put another cat amongst the pigeons if I was England coach I would not start with Gerrard as he has had a very average season. Added to this even at his peak he was never able to translate club form in to national form.

    My midfield would be

    Milner (right)
    Lampard (centre)
    Barry (centre)
    Joe Cole, Gerrard or Downing (left)

    Depending on who plays better towards the end of season rather than just picking Gerrard because of his name.

  • Comment number 76.

    no surpise in this blog. your anti beckham views are such that you couldnt / wouldnt accept he still had a contribution to make.

    what are your views on his performance as a sub aginst utd? testing the keeper and creating at least 2 excellent chances in the 20 or so minutes he was on. you fail to see that with crouch / heskey in the squad when pace down the flanks has failed to create a chance, who do you turn to now. a player that can deliver from wide with pin-point accuracy.

    there is no player in the squad that can deliver crosses from a wide postion with any accuracy. lennon, walcot, wright-phillips all in the same mould lacking in end product. players that are too similar we have now lost a different option, the abilty to go long or cross from deep.

    with crouch as a possible sub a beckham - crouch combiantion could of been a real option if we are struggling in a game.

    beckham would of been a different option that now cannot be replaced sadly for you you just cant see it. very poor blog.

  • Comment number 77.

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

  • Comment number 78.

    # 22 ... I don't think he had to worry about moving to America for the money.. He went there to try something different and basically raise the profile of the game in the Us.. which he has done and at the same time has raised his own profile on the world stage to the next level.. The effects on his body shouldnt be an issue either as he is a physically fit man and wasnt playing every game for Milan anyway..

    I dont see why Lennon would ever be ahead of Milner when you look at the last year or two of football played.. he is versatile and can defend as well as attack..

  • Comment number 79.


    I find it remarkable some of the things you come out with in this blog. Your case for Beckham being included in the England squad is simply based on whether he should make the starting eleven and not in reference to his usefulness to the squad as a whole.

    It seems in your world, England are entirely reliant on Plan A which should be pace and thrust. As Beckham offers none of these qualities you have dismissed him out of hand. What if pace and thrust isn't effective against one of our World Cup opponents? You would suggest that if Lennon's pace isn't working for England, we should replace him with Walcott or SWP? It would be a complete waste of time. Beckham would have offered a Plan B, a different approach. The squad that goes to this World Cup and any major tournament should offer variation, not different versions of the same players.

    It's a crying shame that we won't have Beckham as an option this summer and it certainly will be detrimental to the team, expecially is Lennon and Walcott are not fit. We will then have a severe lack of options on the right hand side.

    As Chief Football correspondant for the BBC, I would have expected you to have a broader view of the game.

    Get well soon Becks...

  • Comment number 80.


    You are not a complete fool...there seems to be some bits missing.

    A modicom of quality, at the right moment, can win a match. If players don't have any quality, it won't happen. The Lennons, SRPs, etc., of this world are hard working lads, who will try thier best, but the quality to turn matches at the very highest level? I think not.

    25mins of Beckham per game would at least have asked questions of opposition teams defensive organisation, whereas these guys will be worked out before they go on the park.

    I think your "I told you so" piece is pretty mean-spirited but it pretty much reflects your underlying petty dislike of all things Man U (or formerly Man U).

    Just because SAF won't speak to you....

  • Comment number 81.

    Honestly, I think that this has given Capello an easy "out". I don't think that he would have selected Beckham anyway

  • Comment number 82.

    # 35

    I agree about Adam Johnson. I was screaming at Mancini yesterday to put him on after 20 minutes.

    He is a very talented player but I cannot see Mancini picking him week in week out before the end of the season :-(

    Mancini's tactics baffle me at the best of times but Johnno should play above any other wide man in our team (preferbly with SWP!)

    But for once, we have such an abundance of skill on the wing that I am sure between them all the job will get done i.e World Cup Champions !

  • Comment number 83.

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

  • Comment number 84.

    When Beckham came on for Milan during the week he was fantastic. Created numerous chances all because of his passing and crossing ability. I don't really care if he hasn't got any pace, his game does not require it because he is incredibly effective in other areas. Still technically excellent.

    All this talk of England having far superior players than him is noncence. This is just another example of an England team being over hyped and as soon as we come up against a decent side we will be knocked out (probably in dramatic circumstances, ie penalties) again.

    Beckham is a loss, and those who can't see that are just blinded by their personal hatred for the guy.

    I'd rather see some desire and enthusiasm rather than over paid, over rated players plodding around, not matter how good they supposedly are.

  • Comment number 85.

    It must be hard for Beckham to look on the bright side right now, but there is one: at least he got to make his farewell appearance at Old Trafford last week. If this injury had happened a bit earlier, he'd have missed out on what will undoubtedly prove to be one of his lasting memories as a footballer (the reception from United fans). In fact, it now appears that will prove to be his poignant farewell to English football, although we didn't know it at the time.

    As for the World Cup, it has to be Adam Johnson. He looked like the only City player who knew what he was doing yesterday, after the rest of them spent 90 minutes running around in circles and playing Wimbledon-style football. He seems to have that rare commodity of composure to go with his skill, too. A bit like Beckham in his prime, in fact. Certainly more like Beckham than Wright-Phillips or Lennon will ever be.

  • Comment number 86.

    As I was watching the news on Beckham injury, my mind went to the proposal for playoffs in the premiership for places 4-7. And whispered 'thank God they made the right decision'.

    I would like to argue that he can be described as a good ambassandor of english football, only in terms of being a well recognised iconic name around the world, but it is inappropriate, given the circumstances.

    The day journalists leave the England team selection to the England manager it will be a good day for the England football team.

  • Comment number 87.

    @Richard Scooby doo comes to mind mate ... why comment!!!

    I am sad for Beckham the man as got gut's,always a top virtue to have In game's when needed, especially with a fantastic right foot attached to so much experience.

    Players like Beckham and Owen only need 10,20 minutes to make a mark,not even that.Now Injuried fabio can put his faith into fringe players with no Impact.

  • Comment number 88.

    you got this out quick phil though i'm not surprised by this one at all - id image u had a rough copy somewhere as u were desperate 2 get someting right after ur liverpool for the title blog (i'd image u have, sorry had a blog ready if they had won it - unlucky :DDDDDDD)

    anyways seriously on mr beckham - england legend (who has produced more in an england shirt than gerrard and lampard put together) basically u need different types of players in a squad and he was one of them - IMO as long as he was playing 2 a good standard capello would have taken him in a simlilar vain 2 why he will prolly take heskey who by rights (goals scored compared to other forwards) should not be anywhere near the england team, but he does the job that is required by the manager, and if heskey gets injured i bet ull not do a blog like this on him, perspective mr m - get away from plugging ya favourite players all the time and having a pop at the one u don't like

    ps roy keane got it right when he said u just have 2 get on with it england should have enough players 2 cover - i saw the injury live and it was so inocuous - any player can get injured and u just have 2 get on with it and not have post mortem after post mortem after thats one of the biggest problems with the england footie team lets just support whoever goes out there and stop slagging off individuals when they have just one bad game

  • Comment number 89.

    With Owen and Beckham out, and John Terry fallen so spectacularly from the public grace, England is suddenly finding World Cup icons very thin on the ground.

    Increasing amounts of pressure are heaping like late snow on the shoulders of the in-form - but overrated - Wayne Rooney.

    And we all know what the result of pressure is on England players. Miserable failure after miserable failure in penalty-kick situations is ample testament to that.

    But we know in particular the result of pressure on Wayne Rooney, especially in the England context. He loses the plot. He loses the rag, he goes recklessly hammering into some foreigner, he gives the finger (metaphorical or otherwise) to the referee. Will he stamp on a prone opponent's groin this time - or will his dismissal be for dissent? Answers on a postcard please.

    The present England team is being built-up - even moreso than in the past - as possible World Cup winners. The smart money, however, is on another risible failure.

    The only question is - whose blood will it be on the carpet this time?

  • Comment number 90.

    I agree its sad for the player but have to say David Beckham must be the most overrated player in the history of the game. The England squad are far better off without is the beautiful game and relying on set pieces and free kicks will get you nowhere aginst technically excellent teams. How someone of such limited ability has got so far in the game will always be a mystery to me...maybe its a reflection of the style over substance culture we live in.

  • Comment number 91.

    I haven't read the article yet Phil, but I know what you're going to say.

    However I completely disagree with the title. It IS devastating for England that Beckham won't be at the world cup. So what if he wouldn't have started a game? He's still a marvellous servant of the team, he's still a very good player and has maintained his quality and form remarkably well for a 30+ year old, and he still provides something different from the right wing, with inch perfect balls every time - as he did at Old Trafford last Wednesday.

    I'm sorry Phil, but his professionalism, skill, quality, and experience are going to be very sadly missed at the World Cup, and the England team will be devastated for him. He's the most capped outfield player for England ever, and he would have given his all at this World Cup.

    I'm sorry, but it IS 100% sad for England that Beckham has suffered this injury.

    I have never posted a negative comment about your articles Phil, and in fact laugh at all those who come on EVERY time and claim things about bias, boring writing etc. But I'm afraid this time I have to vehemently disagree with you. And I get the feeling most of the country, if not world, disagree with you too.

  • Comment number 92.

    I think you underestimate the contribution that experience has in international tournaments Phil.

    What team in the past 20 years has won a world cup using 20 year olds? Experience tells time and time again in international football. It is the most important factor. You say

    "But these players are all seasoned professionals and the most important counsel they receive will always come from Capello, not Beckham."

    But how many World Cups has Capello been to? None? Beckham has seen more than any other Englishman in recent times. That you brush this under the carpet shows how simplistic your analysis is. It is not a videogame, experience is more important than pace.

    This blog, and your views, are so reminiscent of the way Mcclaren talked when he cut Beckham. You make the same mistakes.

    A moment of silence please, for Beckham's ankle.

  • Comment number 93.

    really am gutted for beckham even as a scotland fan. 4 world cups and the chance to possibly become most capped player, especially given he had a real chance of lifting the trophy this time, its a real shame. i dont agree that its not sad for england in a footballing context, im sure he would have added to the squad and based on his performance midweek in which he showed commitment and a willingness to attack when the other 10 milan players seemed to have given up, im sure he still would have offered something on the pitch too. you'll get over it though im sure. gd shout about adam johnson.

    more importantly, come on spain!

  • Comment number 94.

    A very well articulated article and pretty much on the money.

    Perhaps sentiment has taken hold today with the sad news that Becks wont even be amongst the runners for a place in the squad.

    For a long time now I have found it difficult to support our national team. Too many stories about greedy players wanting more money, putting club before country, and the obligatory off-field antics involving each others partners I suppose. Put bluntly, I don't like most of the the England team.

    Then there's the hype that inevitably surrounds the squad despite our insignificant performances in major tournaments over the past 10 years. I begrudge our media for trying to say we are something we are not.

    So where does Beckham come into this... Or not, as the case may be.

    Unlike Lampard, Gerrard, Terry, and Ashley Cole, Beckham has always given everything he has to the team. Wherever he is in the world, he flies in to play his part. Even for off-field commitments. Despite not being England captain, it was Beckham who we turned to to offer support to England's 2018 World Cup bid. It was he who was there for our Olympic bids. David Beckham, for the past 10 years or so has been 'Mr England' and for that, I felt he deserved his one final swan-song at a major tournament.

    Of course this is sentimental. Even the most hardened Beckham fan couldn't deny that he is past his prime, but then again, so what? Lamps, Gerrard, Cole, Heskey, Ferdinand... Haven't they all been their before? Haven;t they all failed several times? We are so caught up in who will go to the World Cup, we forget who we would like to see at the World Cup. I'd much rather cheer on a team of Beckhams that go out in the quarters, than a team of Lampards, that, guess what? Also go out in the quarters.

    Now that Becks is out, Id much rather we ditch our old 'stars' in favour of youth.

  • Comment number 95.

    Sorry for Becks but this could be good news for England. Capello doesn't rely on Becks but too many of England's players do so now they won't be looking to the bench for inspiration but will have to get on with it themselves. Timne now to usher in a new era for England.

  • Comment number 96.

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

  • Comment number 97.

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

  • Comment number 98.

    I thinks its awful news for Beckham and England. There is always room on the plane for someone with Beckham's ability. He was never going to start, but the quality of his delivery would be so important in tight games. With the experience he has, he would have been a major benefit to us. There are younger mobile players that could easily outshine him in the World Cup, but there is no guarantee they will deliver at the highest level. Beckham would not have let us down if called upon. I wish him a speedy recovery and I will miss seeing him at the world cup.

  • Comment number 99.

    The moment the news of this injury broke it was inevitable that there would be this sort of reaction from some.

    While he should not have started games, Beckham's influence as a sub would have been significant in the World Cup, with Rooney, Heskey, Crouch, Terry and co all likely to thrive on his service.

    I genuinely think this injury has ended England's chances of winning in South Africa. You need options like Beckham to change a game from off the bench and he will be hugely missed, no doubt at all.

  • Comment number 100.

    This is discraceful!

    Beckham's place in the squad was guaranteed and guaranteed only for football reasons. He still has such quality and poise with his passing and Fabio knew that, say we were 1-0 up against a top side in the quarters or semis he could rely on Beckham to come on and control and slow down the game and keep us in possesion. By the same token he could come on and provide a killer pass if we needed him to.

    All through his career he has taken knocks from people like you and (as you refer to in your article) has always bounced back. It's just a crying shame there's not enough time for him to this time.


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