Unlike Del Piero et al, at least Beckham may get a farewell game

August 12, 2010

Fabio Capello’s impromptu announcement that David Beckham was too old to play for England has divided opinion across the blogosphere.

Some have said it was typical of Capello’s hard-nosed, no-nonsense style. Why should he have informed the 35-year-old? Why should he have made the announcement in a more official way? As coach he has the right to do as he wants and Beckham should have had the know-how to quit the international scene long ago.

Then again there are other bloggers who think Capello has been unnecessarily mean and that England’s most capped outfield player deserved better, especially as he is injured and went to the World Cup anyway to help out.

At least Capello has shown one slight chink of sentimentality and said Beckham can have a farewell in a friendly. There is a list of top players who never got that chance.

In Italy, Alessandro Del Piero and Filippo Inzaghi entered their mid-30s not knowing if they had played their last game for the Azzurri or not. As time went on through the reigns of Roberto Donadoni and Marcello Lippi, it became clear they would never be picked again but there was no soppiness. No goodbye for two good servants.

Raul had a similar experience in Spain. Perhaps it all goes to show that it is better to do a Zidane, Maldini or Shearer and nominate your retirement game so you can decide when to say goodbye and not the coach.

Maybe Beckham should have realised that Euro 2012 would have been a step too far at his age but such a crippling injury before the World Cup left him still yearning to pull on the England jersey.

The same thing happened with Fabio Cannavaro, who was planning to quit the Italy team after Euro 2008. However, a injury on the eve of the tournament ruled him out and he decided to solidier on to June’s World Cup.

It was a very bad call by Cannavaro, who proved in South Africa that international football was now way beyond him, and the 2006 world player of the year had the ignominy of ending his Italy career with a 3-2 defeat by Slovakia which dumped the Azzurri out in the group stage.

At least Beckham can now have a farewell friendly on his own terms. But knowing Beckham, he will still have half an eye on the England jersey in case Capello departs early or his replacement wants real experience for the 2014 World Cup.

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