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.