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David Beckham Deserves his 100th Cap

With the announcement of the 30-man provisional squad selected by new England coach Fabio Capello yesterday for the upcoming friendly against Switzerland, I thought it was time for me to weigh in on the “Does Becks deserve his 100th cap?” debate.

Let me make something clear first. I have no problem whatsoever with Beckham not being picked for this game. He’s not match fit, and it’s that simple. You can’t justify putting him on the roster when he’s been training for a month with Arsenal’s reserves over players like David Bentley, Shaun Wright-Phillips, and Ashley Young, guys who have been playing competitively in the Premier League all winter and play that same wide position (although Young plays on the left for Aston Villa). Again, I completely understand the rationale behind that decision.

Capello left the door open to recall Becks to the squad if he is on good form when the MLS season kicks off this spring and I have no doubt he will be. Capello and Beckham have a history of this same sort of thing from Real Madrid last year, where Beckham impressed the manager so much in training that he put Becks back into the starting lineup (where he played an integral role in helping Madrid win La Liga) even after chairman Ramón Calderón stated that the former would never play for the Spanish giant again after his declaration to move to the LA Galaxy that summer.

I’m not sure how you can make the argument that Beckham doesn’t deserve his 100th cap for everything he’s done for England and soccer in that nation, both with the national team and with Manchester United. You can say that Beckham isn’t part of England’s future, which is correct, but this discussion isn’t about whether he will play any part in World Cup 2010 or even the qualifying campaign. This is about whether he should lead the team out of the tunnel for one more game, whether he should receive the honor of 100 caps for England, something done only by four players previously. It would be a milestone figure for Beckham, and one that he’s truly earned through his accomplishments on and off the field.

Beckham’s reputation as a player is well-documented. Notable figures in the game like his former managers Sir Alex Ferguson and Capello have praised him for his consummate professionalism and dedication. He was a part of six Premiership winners at Manchester United, where he also won a Champions League and two FA Cups. He was the runner-up for the FIFA World Player of the Year award on two occasions (1999 and 2001). Without Becks’ free kick against Greece in October 2001, England wouldn’t have even qualified for World Cup 2002. In that match, he was the only England player to step up and it was his performance that carried the rest of the team. In World Cup 2006, Beckham played a direct part (either through a goal or an assist) in four of England’s six goals in the tournament. He became the first English player ever to score in three different World Cups. Since that World Cup, he’s played in four matches for England and totaled four assists.

Beckham served as England’s captain for 58 of the 99 games he’s appeared in, from November 15, 2000 to July 2, 2006, when England lost on penalties to Portugal in the World Cup quarterfinals. After that loss, Beckham was the definition of a great captain. We saw him consoling his teammates, picking them up off the field and embracing them, shaking hands with the Portuguese players, and applauding the fans as he went into the tunnel. Six years’ worth of wearing the armband is a remarkable accomplishment and in terms of “matches captained”, Beckham ranks fourth in England national team history. It’s common knowledge that his tenure and leadership was instrumental in the career of many English players, Wayne Rooney most noticeably. Rooney was a loose cannon for Everton, England, and for Manchester United when he first arrived at Old Trafford, but the time he spent around Beckham with England really seemed to change him as a player.

Do I think Beckham deserves that 100th cap? Of course. Do I think he’ll actually get it? Yes. Barring injury, there’s simply no way he won’t get it and I think the only question is when, not if, it will happen. I believe Capello will want him to get it at home in front of the fans, so I’m predicting Beckham will captain the squad for the last time in the game against Kazakhstan on October 11 of this year. Prior to that, there are two other World Cup qualifiers but they’re both away, so I don’t think he’ll play in either of those games. Of course, the middle of the MLS season (when Beckham should be in full stride) would come closer to the September 6 match at Andorra, and even though Beckham should be in better form than most of the Premiership players who are just getting their season underway, I’m not sure if he would get that 100th cap on the road.

David Beckham deserves his 100th cap. He’s contributed enormously to English soccer over the years and served his country as captain for 58 matches. He’s carried the team and won important games single-handedly. He’s influenced many players both on and off the field in tremendous, positive ways.

How can this man not reach that honored milestone?

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  1. rob

    February 6, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Bentley was superb tonight,creating more in a game than Beckham did in his 1st 2 YEARS at international level and has ended “becks” celebrity career once and for all at 5 tournament flops and nothing else.

  2. Shakira Graham

    February 2, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    He is going to get his 100th cap at some point in the next year so this isnt surprising to me.

  3. Patrick

    February 1, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    hey yeah know for all he’s done you’d think even a first half captianship and then a nice end off.

    But Robert Green out? Davis in?

    this is a must read

  4. wanderer_abroad

    February 1, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    Personally I dont see what the massive debate is about. In my opinion, Beckham should only get a call up if his is truelly playing at a consistancy and level which merits him being chosen him over others and is a benefit for the team. At this point in time the answer is no to all these and I’m not sure if he will ever be one of the top right midfielders in England ever again. It would be disrespectful to the greats that have come before him that didn’t reach the 100 caps mark to gift him anothere cap. I don’t think he should be considered one of the greatest English players, although this is hard to justify considering its so difficult to differentiate the hype/commerialization from his talent.

  5. pete

    February 1, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    what a suprise,you refer to football as “soccer”.How that just sums up what Beckham and his “cult” and cebebrity brought into our game-people with no knowledge or heritage in it whtsoever,just get off my pc screen.

  6. pete

    February 1, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    After that loss, Beckham was the definition of a great captain.
    you braindead cretin.I scrolled down and saw this piece of comedy and decided id be wasting my life reading the rest as you clearly know nothing about what you are saying.Beckham was all that was WRONG with his choosing as “captain” in that match v portugal.Utterly useless and irrelevant for 60 minutes,he gets brought off,proceeds to cry his eyes out for HIMSEFL,then walks pre-penalty shoot-out around the rest of the team like a bear with a sore head and a tear ravaged face-THAT IS NOT “GOOD CAPTAINCY” YOU UTTER CLOT.Ive just eaten some food so i really cant bring myself to read anymore or i may not be able to hold it down.Just get out of football and go and watch something which you understand just a little,ok?

  7. Michael

    February 1, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    Dave, it’s not just the training aspect of things.

    If you read Steven Gerrard’s autobiography, you get a small glimpse into the England locker room under Becks’ captaincy and see the way he handled himself around the young players at events and on the training ground, things like that. Gerrard, in fact, praises him repeatedly and uses the words “praise” and “admire” when discussing Beckham both for the way he performs on the field and off.

    Graham Poll was interviewed recently and the former ref talked about his three yellow-card blunder. He then talked about how he received a call from Becks a day or so after asking if he wanted to talk about anything and for Poll to keep his head up.

    It’s a difficult thing to quantify obviously; there aren’t any real numbers to go by, you just have to look at what you see and read from players who are around Beckham on a regular basis.

    If you listen to some of the player interviews or read quotes from right after that loss to Portugal and when Beckham announced he was stepping down as captain, multiple players praised his leadership-by-example qualities and said what a great job he did as captain.

    That was a very good question and hopefully I answered it as well as I could. As I said, just hunt around for interviews and video clips, the proof is there.

  8. Dave Morris

    February 1, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    A well-presented argument – nicely researched. Question, though – has Wayne Rooney (or anyone) attributed his settled temperament to time spent with Beckham? I agree he’s matured, I just don’t see a few days here and there training with England as being influential enough.

  9. Simon

    February 1, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    I agreed until i saw him on a beach playing beach soccer. That was the moment for me when the public decided well his 100th cap isnt that important after all. I think he’ll get it just not yet and rightly so. I do want to see him get one and if not now then in some worthless friendly way down the line if needbe.

  10. Kartik

    February 1, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    England’s over emphasis of results in friendlies is part of the reason they are in this position. Giving a guy a 100th cap in a non competitive friendly should be a no-brainer even if you just give him a 3 minute run out.

  11. Michael

    February 1, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    I think that message has already been sent by Capello. Unlike McLaren and Keegan, Capello is a no-nonsense manager and doesn’t have time for lackluster performances from his players. Look at the squad he selected, and you don’t see some of the familiar names like Jermain Defoe, Darren Bent, and Paul Robinson; guys who consistently underachieve.

    I completely understand what you’re saying, and I agree with it. Beckham’s situation is different though, he just needs one more cap. If you don’t want to pick him after that, fine, but if he earns that cap through his form and then continues to play well, I don’t see why he shouldn’t be picked again.

  12. Andy @ Liquid Football

    February 1, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    You make a very good point Michael, but do you not think it will be better for the national side if he doesn’t get it?

    It sends out a strong clear message to England players that they’ll need to be playing at the top of their game, otherwise they face the chop. Complacency is eradicated, respect is in place, and consistently good performances will arrive.

    Beckham may deserve it, I’m just not sure if he’ll get it.

  13. john

    February 1, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Very nice article. totally agree that Beckham more than derserves the 100th cap and even more.

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