As a teary Green and Golden Balls left the Old Trafford pitch, probably for the last time as a player, there is no doubt he would have had a much more emotional moment to himself in private. Then, like all professionals, he will evaluate his own performance. This will probably bring a grin to the face so many recognise around the world. Why? Because he may have just given more reason to justify his selection to his ultimate farewell as an England player at this summers World Cup.
Since the Champions League Round Of Sixteen draw which pitted Beckham’s beloved United against Milan, he has been waiting with great anticipation for his chance to return to the theatre that first shone the light of ultimate stardom upon him.
The game itself saw United tear apart and embarrass a once forceful AC Milan side. When Beckham made his return it was just after an hour and United had by then already done their damage. 3-0 up against a Milan side that just seemed to crumble for all to see. The 76,212 rose from their seats to applaud Beckham, who found it hard to keep the tears back. Then he got to work.
As his teammates, the likes of former greats Pirlo and Seedorf, seemed to get lost in the shadows under the floodlights. Beckham, like so many times before, set out with a point to prove. Trade mark crossing from all angles tested the United defence. They would have done some more if Inzaghi had kept onside more often. Sir Alex once claimed Inzaghi was ‘born offside’. Then of course was the volley that a yard either side of Van Der Saar would have marked his home coming with a goal.
In the twenty seven minutes he was on the pitch, he was arguably Milan’s best player. He was definitely more effective than the Beckham that started in the first leg. Ok, so the game was over. But the fact that he played with such passion and desire being his last game at Old Trafford would be equalled at this year’s World Cup as every game for England could be his last.
People speak about Beckham being a good player to come on when things are tight and England are winning. He can pass and keep the ball well. With this kind of performance against Milan, why as an impact sub? Wasn’t he man of the match when he stepped of the bench against Slovenia for England last May?
There is a lot of competition for England’s right midfield position for the World Cup. In the starting eleven let alone the squad. Walcott’s battling with consistency. Lennon is battling with injuries. Wright- Philips is battling for selection at City. David Bentley is just battling with everyone. Even if Beckham sits on the bench until the last twenty seven minutes of every remaining Milan game this season, you know what your going to get. Professionalism, determination, experience and the ability to land a football on a ten pence piece.
Beckham gives England something different. He never has had pace to lose. His hallmark passing and crossing could unlock even the tightest defence as it nearly did United’s when Inzaghi, for once on side, was a hair’s breath of pulling a goal back late on.
His crossing though is key to the biggest reason why Beckham should go to the World Cup. That reason, Wayne Rooney. What side of the pitch has all of the crosses of Rooney’s recent flurry of headed goals come from? Who is the countries best crosser of a ball from the right hand side? Rooney has proved this season with Manchester United he is more deadly in front of goal the more he plays in the opposition’s penalty area. England have the players to accommodate this too. Heskey, Gerrard, playing just behind him for example, and why wouldn’t they wont to accommodate this? You would be surprised if Rooney wasn’t England’s top goal soccer this summer. Play to your strengths Fabio.
Beckham could be a key factor to this strength. All be it from the bench. But, if ever a wild card selection was worth having, surely Beckham is it.
Written By Luke Harrison