David Beckham will not be leading TeamGB in the 2012 Olympic football tournament. This is absolutely the right decision by manager Stuart Pearce, despite the inevitable media circus that will surround the former England captain in the aftermath of the announcement.
Beckham is 37, he plays in the US – hardly a premier football tournament – and his day has gone. The Olympic tournament demands that 15 of the 18-man squad have to be born after January 1989. That’s a good 14 or 15 years younger then Beckham.
Imagine a bunch of 22 year-olds buzzing around with Beckham, attempting to play the elder statesman in midfield, being run ragged. It could be a humiliating experience for a legendary player. It would not be the best way for Beckham to bow out in front of his own people. I think Pearce may be thinking of Beckham.
Ryan Giggs, who will be named in the squad, even though he is 38 and rising, has an advantage over Beckham – he is still playing in the Premier and doing it well.
Some might argue that Beckham should be “rewarded” for his part in the Olympic build-up, but I disagree. Beckham has reaped the rewards from a long career that has brought him fame, fortune and oh yes, a pouting celebrity wife.
Pearce may also have been clever about leaking the news of Beckham before the full squad is announced. That way all the fuss about his exclusion can be dealt with beforehand and therefore not overshadow the actual confirmation of the players who will represent TeamGB (I hate that label, why not Great Britain?).
Beckham’s been a good representative of his country and in some ways, a model professional. But he does not need – or indeed deserve – to wallow in self-aggrandizement. He had his chance in quite a few Euros and World Cups.