Ryan Giggs will captain Stuart Pearce's Team GB at the Olympics, but it should have been Manchester United legend David Beckham. Here's why the Games will miss Golden Balls this summer...
“Naturally I am very disappointed, but there will be no bigger supporter of the team than me.
“I would have been honoured to have been part of this unique Team GB squad. Like everyone, I will be hoping they can win the gold.”
That was David Beckham’s reaction to the news that he had been left out of the Great Britain football squad for the upcoming Olympic Games. A humble, openly disappointed but respectful response. The man is a true gentleman, and if you ask me it’s a terrible decision to omit him from Team GB.
Becks is an idol in this country and he would have been the perfect man to represent a side that is in need of uniting. Bringing together players (and fans) of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is no easy feat. For such a precarious task you need players that transcend national fandom, and a leader to bring these collective nations together as one. Step forward David Beckham.
Reportedly the three over-23 players selected for the squad are Micah Richards, Craig Bellamy and Ryan Giggs. All fine players, who will probably walk into the starting eleven and add something to the team, but there should have been room to include Beckham.
For starters, Micah Richards should have been unavailable for selection as he deserved to make the England team at Euro 2012. Glen Johnson performed better than expected, but Richards has just come off the back of a season winning the Premier League for Manchester City. He should have been in Poland and Ukraine this summer.
The man is a true gentleman, and if you ask me it’s a terrible decision to omit him from Team GB
The ripple effect of that decision by Roy Hodgson to leave Richards at home – and place Martin Kelly on stand-by ahead of him – may have cost Becks his spot in the Olympics. And at the age of 37, many will claim that he isn’t needed at the Olympics this summer.
But if Stuart Pearce is going to take Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy he is suggesting age is no barrier to selection. And Beckham’s form in America for LA Galaxy has been good so far this MLS season, and his enthusiasm to play for Team GB – not to mention his desire to lead the side – would have only added to his possible contribution.
This move feels eerily similar to Steve McClaren’s decision to drop Beckham when he took over as England coach in 2006. Pearce may well be showing everyone that he is his own man. A way to exert dominance after failing to persuade the FA he was the right man for the national team job, which would be incredibly harsh on Beckham.
Olympic football has never caused much of a stir in the UK thanks to a lack of recent participation on our behalf, but this year with the games in London it looks set to interest many fans and supporters.
After the disappointment of Euro 2012, this is a tournament we could actually win given the relatively inferior opposition. And how great would it have been to see Becks captain the side to glory at Wembley? Team GB beating Brazil in the final thanks to a trademark Beckham free-kick – I can’t think of a better possible image the Olympics could conjure up for home supporters.
Ok, so the initial reflex response will be that the former Real Madrid midfielder is past it, too old, too slow and doesn’t deserve to be picked as he is playing in a substandard league. But that is too simplistic for my reckoning.
This move feels eerily similar to Steve McClaren’s decision to drop Beckham when he took over as England coach in 2006
Becks is the golden boy of English football, and despite having not played on these shores for nearly a decade, is an instantly recognisable and hugely respected figure across the world of football.
He’s amassed 115 caps for the national side, played for two of the best clubs sides on earth and his dead balls are still to die for. He’s proved his ability numerous times and has bounced back from set-backs by Fabio Capello to prove the strict Italian tactician wrong about him twice. And with his endless experience he would be the perfect talisman, figurehead and leader for this GB team.
His role in securing the Olympic Games for the capital should not be underplayed, although it is wrong to suggest he should be in the squad on sentiment alone. He has worked tirelessly as an Olympic ambassador and was a crucial cog in pitching the bid in 2005 in Singapore. But the point remains that he deserves his place in the 23 on merit. Team GB could have undoubtedly used Beckham to generate interest, but as a player he still has one more tournament in him before he retires gracefully.
Stuart Pearce may claim this decision has been made to take the competition as seriously as possible. He may not want the stardust that accompanies as big a name as Beckham’s. But if he had wanted a dedicated professional, an able captain and someone who has been dreaming about playing at the Olympics in London for years then Pearce shouldn’t have looked past Becks.
It remains to be seen who else will be named in the Team GB squad, but for most people there should have been a spot reserved for Beckham. He has earned it and the man deserves such a fitting farewell after the career he has enjoyed. So long Becks, you will be missed.
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