Beckham deserves to stand alongside Moore
A great many people, most of whom never saw Bobby Moore play, have decided that it is an insult to his memory that David Beckham will equal his outfield record of 108 England caps if he plays against Spain on Wednesday.
But if Moore , who died in 1993, had been around today you can be sure he would have been the first to sincerely congratulate a fellow gentleman of the game. The Golden-locked hero of 1966 would have recognised much of himself in Goldenballs.
Beckham has been and continues to be a magnificent servant not only to England but to football as a whole.
He did not award himself 107 international caps, he was picked, by a succession of managers. When he was dropped by Steve McClaren in the former manager’s attempt to make a mark after his appointment, Beckham didn’t sulk, complain or sell his “inside story” to the tabloids.
He merely went away, trained hard and played to the best of his ability, until he was recalled. Many ageing superstars over the years have declined to warm the bench of their national side, their egos not allowing memories of their greatest days to be tainted by exposure of their fading talents.
Not Beckham. He has said time and time again that he will never “retire” from international football. He rightly points out that it is the ultimate sporting honour and that he will do anything and everything he can to help his country.
Listen to the likes of Aaron Lennon and Theo Walcott, young guns who have forced Beckham to spend most of his recent England matches on the sidelines.
They cannot say enough in praise of the way he has helped them settle and develop in the national team, all the while knowing that every improvement they show lessens the chance of him regaining a starting berth.
Remember Old Trafford in 2001 when he tore around in a frenzy in one of the all-time – yes all-time – great captain’s performances before applying the coup de grace with his last-gasp free kick to secure the draw against Greece that sent England through to the 2002 World Cup? That is called playing for your country.
He gives generously off the pitch too. Some might not like his celebrity lifestyle but not those touched by his work for UNICEF, not the thousands of youngsters who have been through his soccer schools and not the young fans, most not even born when he made his debut, who ensure Beckham’s name raises the loudest cheer when the teams are read out at Wembley.
True, he has had his lows. The 1998 red card, the broken toes, the penalties, the quarter-finals, and he will never captain England to glory in the World Cup.
But he can still dream of a cameo should they upset the odds in South Africa next year.
Amid the shame and pain, the beers and tears of England over the last 13 years, David Beckham has been a glorious gift to the nation and absolutely deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder with the man who hoisted the Jules Rimet Trophy 43 years ago.
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