Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

David Beckham deserved better treatment

Only David Beckham could capture all the headlines on a night when a team he was not in tried to make amends for something he was not part of.

As Beckham has now celebrated his 35th birthday, is currently beginning his recovery from a long-term injury and plies his trade in a league thousands of miles away, whose standard is a couple of notches below top-class, the announcement that he will not be selected in a competitive game for England again is hardly a surprise.

Yet it is a measure of the affection in which the former captain is held that acres of newsprint and scores of radio and TV phone-ins have been dominated by the debate over whether Fabio Capello has made the right call.

It is true to say Beckham was not world-class, at least in the generally regarded way, in the manner of say, his Manchester United Class of '92 colleague Paul Scholes.

But his right-boot remains deadly. His crossing is beyond reproach, making him an attractive proposition for any manager.

Those facets to his game ensure he has a status in addition to a presence.

However, time waits for no man. Not even the near immortal. The day comes for everyone that the body does not work as well as the mind.

Capello is paid £6million-a-year to make such decisions. His reputation stands or falls by the choices he makes.

The problem is the manner in which Beckham has discovered he is surplus to requirements.

Capello has relegated the most famous footballer England has ever produced to the status of foot soldier. Beckham will certainly never be that.

When FIFA bigwigs want an English footballer to pose for a picture, Beckham is the man. When Sebastian Coe wanted someone who could help swing the Olympic bid in London's favour, it was to Beckham that he turned. Chances are the World Cup bid team will feel exactly the same way before the final votes are cast in December.

Whether he likes it or not, Capello must realise Beckham is no ordinary player. He needs to be treated as such.