Is Beckham worth his Team GB place
It’s been a long wait and quite a bit of bother, so let’s not make the first act of a united Great Britain football team to indulge our favourite pants salesman.
Let’s not feel obliged to squeeze David Beckham in the GB team because his global appeal and easy charm helped London win the Olympic Games in the first place.
Let’s not pick him to sell shirts or soothe the scars of Fabio Capello’s ham-fisted declaration that the career of England’s most-capped outfield player was over at 115 caps.
Paul Trevillion: The master of the moving art has captured David Beckham in his Team GB kit for a special Sportsmail commission
If Beckham merits inclusion as one of three over-age players in an Under 23 team for football reasons, then fine. But this tournament is of great value to our next generation of footballers and it would be utterly stupid to spend it pining for the last one.
When Spain went to the Sydney Games in 2000, they sent no over-age players. They sent an U23 squad including Xavi Hernandez. They still finished with a silver medal and Xavi feels it was a catalyst for the incredible success since.
Just pants! Beckham continues to earn plenty of admirers for his work off the pitch, as well as on it
Over-age picks should strengthen weak spots and these are not likely to appear in midfield, where Phil Jones, Jack Wilshere, Gareth Bale, Jack Rodwell, Jordan Henderson, Aaron Ramsey, Tom Cleverley, Jake Livermore, Joe Allen and Josh McEachran all fit the bill.
Yes, youngsters can learn from Beckham’s example but there are good pros to watch at every club.
Pearce has dedicated the last five years of his career to developing young players ready for the challenge of senior international football. Why pick a 36-year-old
Micah Richards is seven months over the U23 limit but if he doesn’t go to Euro 2012, this is the perfect chance for him to sample another tournament.
Pearce will pick only two GB goalkeepers and, as the nation is not awash with talent in this position, there is a good argument for selecting an over-age No 1.
He may need more firepower if Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge, Andy Carroll and Theo Walcott are lost to Euro 2012. Or a centre half like Michael Dawson if Jones and Chris Smalling are there.
Pearce needs players who are reliable and have swift powers of recovery. Gold and silver medal winners will play six times in 17 days.
Beckham is in decent shape, as the pants ads show, and will be mid-season with Los Angeles Galaxy, but competitive sharpness is offset by the fact that America’s MLS cannot compare in quality or intensity to the Barclays Premier League.
Over age: Micah Richards and David James be included via different paths
It is many years since he played at elite level and this competition will feature strong teams from Spain, Argentina and the African nations.
Argentina, gold medal winners at the 2004 and 2008 Games, went to Beijing with a very strong U23 contingent including Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi. To this they added: Juan Roman Riquelme (then aged 30), Javier Mascherano (24) and Nicolas Pareja (24).
The ‘Vote Becks’ campaign is already running. He adores his country (despite playing abroad for the last nine years) and would love to be a part of an Olympics in his native London. It would be the perfect end to a comic-book career.
Beckham has been great for English football and still can be as an ambassador. Or as a coach if he acquires the right qualifications. Do not forget his contribution to securing the Games, but if he makes this squad it’s probably for the wrong reasons.
Decisions: Stuart Pearce must chose his squad by July 9
Is it commercial pressure from adidas Is it political pressure from the upper echelons of the FA, where they tread on eggshells, unsure when they might next want to tap into Beckham’s fame
After all the wasted diplomatic approaches to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and FIFA to summon a GB football team, let’s pick a competitive one and one which will develop young players.
Not one weakened by a lust to include the most marketable face in football.