England Respects David Beckham, Why Can’t We?


Say what you will about David Beckham, but at least the man isn’t on Twitter.

Too bad in a way, because Beckham epitomizes the Internet age.  Thirty years ago, football’s ignominious sideshow used to be known only to players and pub owners; today, David Beckham has made the 24 hour netnews tabloid periphery the main event.  Or rather, he hasn’t per se.  Had he married a twenty-six year old accounting executive and never dropped by the hair salon, it’s very likely we’d view David Beckham much in the same way as we view any aging England star—nice that he’s still chugging away, but when will he secure that TV pundit deal and drop out already?

And no, this isn’t just another David Beckham harangue.  The man is on the verge of breaking Bobby Moore’s venerable record of 108 England caps.  John Terry has openly spoken of giving him the armband if he gets subbed on against Slovakia.  This after he’s already quieted, if not silenced completely, his critics by playing well with AC Milan after a dubious pair of seasons with the LA Galaxy.  Even though, like the late George Best remarked, the man can’t score, dribble, or mark to save his life, all he’s got is that right foot.

But what a foot! Many fans under twenty might think a player like Beckham would be inconceivable playing for the fluid, short-passing United of the late naughts, but as Rob Smyth pointed out today, his partnership with Scholes, Giggs and Keane was for a time the most effective midfield in English football.  His foot brought qualification to England for WC 2002, and, via Shearingham and Solskjaer, won Manchester United a European Cup.

So why all the animosity?  It can’t be because he’s been overrated; certainly no one worthy of attention has or will ever call him one of the all-time greats.  Some ‘real’ fans hate him because he is the face of ‘sah-ker’ for the unconverted, even while the Leonel Messi’s and Dani Alves’ of the world play a much better game at a much younger age with relatively little outside regard.  To others, he simply represents everything wrong with modern football—sponsorship, ad deals, money, his b-list celebrity wife and chavish looks, fame without the once requisite talent to justify it.  They regard him as soccer’s Paris Hilton.

Perhaps.  To them, I would only say that in thirty years time, no one, outside of some nineties/naughts retrospective, will care about Victoria or sunglasses or 100 million dollar transfer deals to North American bush leagues.  They will remember the football.  It wasn’t always great, but whether it was or it wasn’t, at least the man was dedicated.

And didn’t feel the need to Tweet about it.

20 thoughts on “England Respects David Beckham, Why Can’t We?”

  1. i’ve been a football fan for over 40 years and i know players like Best,Hoddle,Gascoine and others but for me I salute and respect a player named Beckham aka Goldenballs.A really professional,committed and family oriented player.

  2. I have only a few less years than the last fan and would have to agree.

    Additionally I wanted to point out that the US could be the only place in the world where Messi and Alves get very little “outside” regard. Barcelona have been called what Brazil were for many years — the world’s second favorite team: your own club and then Barca — with Messi more than well regarded with much of the discussion focusing on when he will achieve world’s best status.

    For better or worse, most footballers have the best commercial endorsements they can. You’ll find Messi, Kaka, Ronaldinho, Gerrard, Henry, etc etc in many of the same group ads as Beckham, whether it be for Pepsi or Adidas. (Unfortunately for us in the States those ads have mostly been made for major tournaments and/or shown overseas. Much as I hate ads, many of those are fun to watch).

    Finally, I would be so happy never to see that George Best quote again, first it was in jest, and much as we loved him, Best was fairly deep into his cups by then. Beckham uses it in good humor to caption a series of photos in his book. Second, few get it right, the list of “can’ts” are head the ball, beat his man, tackle or score. True, Beckham’s certainly not the most graceful, or self-preserving, sliding into a tackle, he’s never been the fastest although he’s beaten quite a few, but if you’ve watched him with AC Milan lately its clear that he’s still able to head the ball and score quite nicely.

  3. This is maybe not another Beckham harangue, but it certainly is another of Victoria harangue. While you are urging people to respect the man, why not starting to respect his wife/family too? After all, that’s what makes him as he is today, on and off the pitch. Other than that..I agree with your article. But leave the family alone while talking football will ya.

  4. I just want to comment on the oddly placed snide comment regarding North American “bush leagues”.

    US’s current FIFA ranking is 17. I’m pretty sure we will do well (well, by our standards) in the upcoming WC. And most of our players play for club teams in the US. Seems like that should count for something.

  5. I’ve always found it hypocritical when sports writers in football or other sports criticize athletes for maximizing their marketing potential off the field. This is a group of people, collectively, who will jump through flaming hoops in a spandex unitard if you offer them a ham sandwich.

  6. I think the US is better without football (soccer). They have their own sports, just because everyone in europe loves footy doesn’t mean they have to join the bandwagon. Here in Australia soccer isn’t that big either. Soccer is most popular with lower and middle classes in England (where I lived for some years). I’m sick of these hooligans vandalising because their team lost. Beautiful game? maybe, but it’s certainly not a beautiful culture. David Beckham was a good player but he’s a posterboy celeb more than anything.

  7. I respect Beckham for what he has done on the field but they way he shafted MLS after coming to America to help the game has left me with a little less respect for him as a person. He came to America to help soccer and bolted the first chance he got. As a player yes I repsect him but his behavior as of late, no I dont.

    1. you can’t blame the guy. No offense but the MLS League isn’t a very good soccer league.& much less the Galaxy.
      In Europe the teams play with much more passion for soccer. and here its just not the same…and if you had to choose between some mediocre team and a team that you can actually get along with and enjoy playing soccer, which would you choose?. Honestly.

  8. Beckham is a good footballer, but to compare him to Bobby Moore, Gary Linekar, etc is simply criminal.

    Heck Gazza was much better than him when in shape and not on the bottle.

    MLS is in some respects a semi professional league (when you consider the number of guys making 12k and 17k and who would get a salary upgrade by going to USL, our second division) and yet he could not dominate a league which has been previously dominated by the likes of Raul Diaz Arce, Mammadou Diallo and Damani Ralph. Never heard of those guys? You are not alone.

    He’s a persistent footballer getting all these caps but little else. Cobi Jones, the US all time caps leader isn’t among the US’ 15 best players ever. Claudi Suarez aka la Emperor is the all time Mexican cap leader- he’s a solid professional but one of mexico’s top 15 or 20 players ever: no.

    The record signifies persistence and media love more than football skill or quality.

  9. Good post! David Beckham certainly polarizes opinions – the media loves him and fans love to hate him – but I think people often don’t distinguish between David Beckham the man, and the 3-ring media circus that perpetually surrounds him.

    I am disappointed he’s bailing on the MLS, but I think that failure is shared by Beckham, the LA Galaxy, and the MLS. For their part, the LA Galaxy failed to build a balanced team, and languished at the bottom of the league. The MLS got a marquee name, but Beckham was never going to be Michael Jordan, with his amazing moves showing up as highlights on ESPN – that’s just not the sort of player he is. I wouldn’t be surprised if the MLS and the LA Galaxy were secretly happy to get some extra money to re-invest elsewhere.

  10. I think its time people started recognizing that you dont win 6 premier league titles, 2 FA Cups, a Champions League trophy, play in 3 World Cups (so far), winning a La Liga title, and playing for the 3 best club teams in the world…off the back of having a pretty face!

    Why people still hate to give him the credit he deserves is beyond me. Yes, we know what he can and cant do, but bottom line, he’s been a model athlete and role model father for the past 10 years. So what, he poses in underwear on billboards and sells soft drinks. I for one would take an easy million to use a certain kind of razor!

    Kartik – Im sure, from your very last sentence in your reply above that you’ve never watched Beckham or a game football in your life!

    “The record signifies persistence and media love more than football skill or quality”

    Serioulsy – thats ridiculous!

  11. The question is, would any of the fans, who disregard beckham for his “ads and glamour” lifestyle, let go the opportunity to get the money Beckham has made by signing those deals? I DONT THINK SO.

    So why make such a big fuss and be hypocrtical about what Beckhams does knowing that tomorrow if we were put in the same spot (and oh how amazing would that be), we’d definitely be makin the choices he does.

    As for his footballing credentials, well, his games speak for himself. Why people brand his one game as “bad” is because he himself set his standards so high. He is a true professional and the most dangerous crosser of the ball ever. Yes, EVER.

  12. Stevo, I’ve actually seen Beckham play in person many times. He no Gary Linekar or Bobby Moore. I’ve been to hundreds of football matches. But I’m a Yank so I’m sure that means I have inferior bloodlines in the view of some Brits on here.

    As I said before the two nations around here have players who hold cap records that are above average players for their nations.

    Would you even compare Beckham favorably with Steve McManaman or Paul Ince as far as being an influential midfielder. I sure wouldn’t.

    Look as I said MLS is basically a hybrid semi-pro/professional league and he struggled in it. The excuses run abound by his supporters why he failed here, but a failure in MLS is a blight on a career. Heck, even Darren Hiuckerby dominates this league. Imagine that!

  13. This is a group of people, collectively, who will jump through flaming hoops in a spandex unitard if you offer them a ham sandwich.

    You should copyright that idea, Ty. That’s the future of reality TV right there.

  14. After a long time I’ve Read a Real Article about David Beckham…

    Some of the Media Persons who previously were writing articles about Beckham didn’t even knew how the ball turns when he Kicks it……

    I recall so many Incidents……WC Qualifier against Greece, ManU vs R.Mad at Old Trafford…..the man Showing his anger by scoring from that free kick against the Best Team in the world…..

    Salute to David Beckham……what ever he has got in his Carrier…..he has Earned it…..Capello knows that…….

  15. Unless you have done anything more productive or have been an influence and role model for hundreds of people like Beckham has done and is still doing AROUND THE WORLD you are a total hypocrite to criticize the man.

  16. One of the most dedicated guy on and off the pitch..
    most influential midfielder i have seen from england in late nineties..
    Best free kicks and best crosses ever…. (nobody comes close)..
    Do you want to respect this player… hell yeah!!!!!!

    He has 10-15 years of his peak time to earn money… Whats wrong in that??
    Everyone enjoys all the perks they get … He gets more.. so dont be jealous and enjoy the game..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *