The end of Becks but not England’s World Cup hopes

Adrian Musolino Columnist

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    AC Milan English soccer star David Beckham is injured after received a kick from Chievo Verona midfielder Giampiero Pinzi during the Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Chievo at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Sunday, March 14, 2010. AP Photo/Antonio Calanni.

    David Beckham’s career, internationally and at the elite club level (the MLS doesn’t count, no disrespect intended) appears over having snapped his Achilles tendon over the weekend. But don’t fear England fans. England’s chances at the World Cup will only be minimally impacted by his absence.

    At 34 years of age, Beckham’s presence at the World Cup was far from guaranteed. Despite some impressive performances for AC Milan, including his stint at his former stomping ground of Old Trafford against his beloved Manchester United in the Champions League last week, England coach Fabio Capello has a wealth of options in the middle of the park and Beckham was far from guaranteed a spot on the flight to South Africa – something he acknowledged only days ago.

    The likes of Theo Walcott, Aaron Lennon and Shaun Wright-Phillips have the pace and youth that Beckham has lost with age, and were likely to feature ahead of Beckham on the right.

    The fact he had prolonged his international career beyond Germany 2006, where injury appeared to have ended his England career, speaks volumes of his hunger and desire – something often lost in the focus on his ‘celebrity’.

    England’s hopes of ending their 44-year World Cup drought rest with the likes of Wayne Rooney who is in devastating form for club; Rio Ferdinand and John Terry who must be fit to help stabilise England’s sometime shaky defensive unit; the ever-reliable Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard rising to the occasion; and the likes of Walcott and Lennon – the new brigade – providing that spark that has been lacking for England in recent campaigns.

    If those boxes can be ticked, and England can overcome their mental fragility (and penalty shootout performances), then England under Capello can go all the way, with or without Becks. They have the talent and the coach needed.

    Where Beckham will be missed is in his experience and footballing brain, but England’s fortunes weren’t relying on Beckham’s right foot. His presence would have been a bonus for Capello, possibly in a cameo role akin to his performance for AC Milan in the Champions League.

    Capello’s concerns are not of missing Beckham but rather the increasingly worrying goalkeeper question mark and defensive doubts. Beckham was a sidebar.

    Beckham’s career had often read like a fairytale. He was earmarked for greatness at a young age, schooled at Manchester United and played an important role in the team which peaked with the Treble victory in 1998–99, ending his Spanish career with La Liga success, playing missionary (while pocketing a fortune) in the USA, then returning to Europe in somewhat of a second-coming. He was blessed with the looks most us envy, married a pop star and rose to a level of celebrity we have not witnessed for a sportsman.

    His recent return to Manchester, which included a very public show of support to the club’s supporters, could well have been the swansong to his fairytale career, and not lifting the World Cup in Johannesburg as he had hoped.

    Adrian Musolino
    Adrian Musolino

    Adrian Musolino is editor of V8X Magazine, and has written as an expert on The Roar since 2008, cementing himself as a key writer who can see the big picture in sport. He freelances on other forms of motorsport, football, cycling and more.

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    The Crowd Says (14)

    • March 16th 2010 @ 8:03am
      Marshall said | March 16th 2010 @ 8:03am | ! Report

      It’s curtains for Becks. Mls will be easier on him. Shame for him.

    • March 16th 2010 @ 8:29am
      whiskeymac said | March 16th 2010 @ 8:29am | ! Report

      good player, great marketing and from all accounts an exemplary professional. for a midfielder to be playing international/ AC Milan at 34 is impressive in anyone’s book. although he is hopeful of a quick recovery, you wld have to think that this was his swansong on the big stage (kind of fitting it was at old trafford and wearing the green/gold scarf).

    • March 16th 2010 @ 8:39am
      Tom said | March 16th 2010 @ 8:39am | ! Report

      Its really all about Rooney, isn’t it?

      Personally, I can’t see England winning it. Not strong enough out wide, for me.

    • March 16th 2010 @ 9:05am
      Ian Noble said | March 16th 2010 @ 9:05am | ! Report

      Milner is the man, was at Wembley and when he came on in the 2nd half he was the catalyst for the better performance v Egypt; good two feet and an excellent reader of the game.

    • March 16th 2010 @ 9:38am
      Ghost said | March 16th 2010 @ 9:38am | ! Report

      I agree. England is a chance this year. But that chance is all about Rooney being fed by Lampard, Gerrard and Lennon. And they have to score too because their defence is not good.

      Remember if we Aussies sneak into 2nd in our group, its likely we will meet them in the round of 16…

      • March 16th 2010 @ 10:41am
        James said | March 16th 2010 @ 10:41am | ! Report

        That would be awesome. If that was the case Becks being there would have helped the publicity of the game in Australia and made it even bigger.

        • March 16th 2010 @ 6:23pm
          Marshall said | March 16th 2010 @ 6:23pm | ! Report

          So I’m guessing England need to top their group and Socceroos finish second, right? What’s Englands group look like? Fair chance of being top?

          Can’t help but feel Socceroos V England would be bigger than any games from Germany 06.

          • March 16th 2010 @ 6:33pm
            DERBY COUNTY FC said | March 16th 2010 @ 6:33pm | ! Report

            It’d be awesome if we met the Aussie’s at the biggest show on earth but honestly, i can’t see you guys getting out of your group.

            • March 16th 2010 @ 6:34pm
              James said | March 16th 2010 @ 6:34pm | ! Report

              Easy tiger 😉

    • March 16th 2010 @ 10:46am
      Derby County FC said | March 16th 2010 @ 10:46am | ! Report

      I’m English and have Becks out doesn’t worry me too much, would have been handy to have him off the bench but that’s about it!

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