David Robert Joseph Beckham. Superlatives are often thrown around about the enigma that is ‘Golden Balls’, and I will be the first to say that he is a true living legend of the beautiful game. And at 34, he’s still not half-bad at kicking a ball about either.
Now, the country, as a whole, seems to have taken a proverbial kick to the lower regions upon hearing the news that Becks won’t be making the plane to South Africa due to a torn Achilles and you can understand their anguish.
For one thing, he’s a man who’s been there and back again. And again. His experience in the dressing room alone is always something that his fellow team mates will respond to. You can’t really ignore the advice of a former England captain who has represented his country more than a 100 times, and with the Terry/Bridge scandal, someone does need to grab the reins for the national side.
And as I mentioned earlier, the bloke’s got talent. Talent that was clearly seen by millions when he re-stepped onto the field at the Theatre of Dreams to witness his current loan side collapse at the hands of his former mentor. OK, so it was only as a substitute, but after some positive play, a couple of trademark crosses and a not so trademark volley, he was arguably Milan’s best player.
So England are doomed then, right? Well, I’m not so sure. In fact what I’m about to say next might shock some people. But I feel it’s something that should be said.
Here goes…Beckham not being at the World Cup for England could be a good thing.
Now before everyone lets me know what a fool I am, I will elaborate. Capello already has a headache in the making when it comes to deciding which midfielders he takes with him to the squads adopted base in Rustenburg.
But with Beckham out of the picture, allowances won’t have to be made for the ever-slowing winger, and it opens the door for players like Milner, Walcott, Lennon (if fit) and Wright-Phillips to prove in the remaining two months of Premier League football why they should be wearing the three lions on their chest in the summer.
Many are saying that he will no longer play for the national side, which despite what I have said would be a shame. No player should be forced to retire through injury. But maybe it’s a sign from the footballing gods that Beckham’s time in England jersey is up. Time to hand over the gauntlet to the new guard of nimble footed youngsters, ready to showcase what they have on the biggest stage possible.
The English game prides itself on being a high tempo, fast paced affair, and how better to advertise why the Premier League is still the best League in the World than to utilise the players who zip from one end of the field to the other week in week out.
Beckham may have given us that different dimension with his crossing and passing ability, but here’s a thought. Would he have actually made the starting 11? Unlikely, given that Capello tends to throw him on after 65 minutes have already taken place.
So do we really want a 34 year old set piece specialist as our impact player rather than a fleet-footed sprinter who can trouble a tired defence? Probably not. If he can suffer a serious injury like this from literally kicking a ball, maybe we have dodged a bullet here. With Owen out of the picture too, and Gary Neville and David James looking more and more their age as the season progresses, it seems that the Capello’s first tournament as England manager could be a first for a lot of his squad too. Let’s just hope its youthful vitality and not immaturity that they bring with them to South Africa.
Human bodies tend to have a knack of letting you know when you’re pushing too hard, and however much it pains me to say it, maybe it’s time that the man from Leytonstone listened to his.
Written By Dale Chandler