After the World Cup in Germany last July, following Englands loss to Portugal, Beckham stood down as captain of the team, but said he would still make himself available for his country, that he would not be retiring. Unfortunately for Beckham Steve McClaren took over from the departing Sven Goran Erikson as the England manager, and in an effort to distance himself from his predecessor, left Beckham out of his first England squad. McClaren’s view that this was a new team, it needed new faces, youthful faces, and Beckham wasnt a part of that, was generally applauded by many writers, many of whom had been calling for Beckhams head for a while before. Beckham, although never blessed with pace, could not beat defenders anymore and was wholly reliant on his long passing game. Pace was needed out wide, and Aaron Lennon was seen as the answer and successor on the right flank. Beckhams preferred role, down the middle, was occupied by Lampard and Gerrard, both of whom had excelled at club level, but never gelled as an international partnership, but were stuck with. The captaincy went to Chelsea’s John Terry. Beckhams international career seemed over.
As Becks was passed over with each new England squad named, and with his Real Madrid contract up at the end of the season, he began to look at the options for his next big move. While a return to England was mentioned, even a return to United at one stage, it was seen as more likely that Beckham would opt for the fashion capitol of Milan. Milan were interested, brand Beckham is bigger than Beckham the player, and any team would welcome a slice of that pie. Beckham, and presumably his wife Victoria, had other plans, and announced that at the end of his contract with Madrid he would be joining MLS side LA Galaxy in America, in a financial deal that would shatter all previous records in world football. Beckham was bringing the Beckham brand to America.
Following the announcement that he would be jetting of to the States once his deal with Real had expired Capello told the worlds press that Beckham would no longer be considered for Real as his future was no longer with them, effectively putting Beckham in no mans land. Not wanted by his club or country what was Beckham to do? The answer to that says a lot about the man. If he take away his celebrity status, his sponsorships, his sometimes over the top lifestyle, what you’re left with is one of the most professional sportsmen in the world. Beckham did not cry, sulk, or throw his toys out of the cot, he turned up for training, trained as hard as ever, kept himself in shape, and never complained. His attitude was commended by all his team mates, and his manager. With the form of Madrid subsiding, and with a growing injury list, it was only a matter of time before Becks was called upon again. And when he was he never looked back. His form has been sensational, leading a Madrid fine fightback that now see’s them on the verge of their first title, and first trophy, since Beckhams arrival four seasons ago. Capello has gone as far to say that Beckham is playing as well as he had been for Manchester United, and that he was wrong to have ever left him out and wishes he could get him to stay next season. Some retraction. But all true. Beckhams form, coupled with Van Nistelrooys goals, have seen Madrid claw their way back into the title race and now only need to match Barcelona’s result on Sunday to claim the title.
While Madrid have gone from strength to strength England have been floundering. There have many loud calls for McClarens head, less than a year into his reign. With things reaching a point where the next bad result was potentially McClarens last game, the England manager followed Cappellos lead and recalled Beckham to the national team. In the two games he has played since then, one a friendly against Brazil and the other a Euro qualifier against Estonia, Beckham has set up 3 of Englands 4 goals and received standing ovations from the crowds. Whether or not Beckham will be picked once he leaves for the states is up for debate. The standard of football there is equivalent to maybe a mid Championship team, and the travelling that he would have to endure would not be easy. Beckham is adamant that he will fly across the world to play for his country, and with a few caps to go to reach the 100 club you wouldn’t bet against him.
Beckhams professionalism has been the key to his great come back, and for this he must thank those at Manchester United, in particular Sir Alex. While a lot of it may be the man himself, it is the foundations he received at United that are now paying dividend’s. Work ethic plays an important role at United, where you always see star attacking players like Giggs tracking back to defend, where it is not unusual to see Rooney as the covering right back when United are facing a counter attack,and where training and preparation are the key to success. It is worth noting that other player from other clubs, most notably Robbie Fowler and Steve Mcmanaman have progressed backwards once they have been dropped from their team. The work ethic instilled in Beckham has been his saviour and will continue to bless him with as long a career as he wants.