March 15th, 2010
04:28 PM ET

Beckham's career: They think it's all over...

David Beckham's international career was never going to just peter out. That's not the way the man does things, as drama and intrigue has followed him every step of the way throughout his career.

Beckham in pain after sustaining an injury playing for AC Milan.
Beckham in pain after sustaining an injury playing for AC Milan.

So, at the risk of this sounding like an obituary, if, as feared, this is the end of the line for his World Cup and international career, then it's only fitting that he went out on his shield, playing the game and fighting for his place in Fabio Capello's England squad.

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Because, make no mistake, Beckham was by no means a certainty to go to South Africa even before the injury - a fact he was well aware of himself. Capello insists that all his players are competing at the highest level in the lead-up to the finals in order to be eligible for selection. And Beckham, while having made the loan move to Milan from the LA Galaxy for the express purpose of keeping himself in World Cup contention, had spent much of his time on the bench for the Rossonieri, coming on to play cameo roles, though still considered by Milan boss, Leonardo, an "important part of the squad."

So, on paper, there were others in front of him in terms of being selected to play on the right side of England's midfield. And the injury has, in a way, let Capello off the hook. As now he'll no longer have to decide whether Beckham's effectiveness as a talisman should override his impact as a player to earn him selection.

That said, it would have been a nice dilemma to have, as there's no doubt that Beckham, despite his mild-mannered demeanor, does have the ability to inspire. Not by shouting and cajoling his team-mates, but by his mere presence. Not to get too metaphysical about all this, but, having met and interviewed him many times, the guy does have a positive aura about him. And, with David in the squad to provide a quiet word; that steely-eyed look he often adopts in pressure situations; or, of course, that killer cross or free-kick of which he's still capable, England would have been a stronger contender in South Africa.

Unfortunately, it's probable that England will have to do without all of the above, as the Achilles tendon injury Beckham sustained is not as easily overcome as the broken metatarsal he suffered in the lead up to the 2002 World Cup, which he was able to shake off in time to play in the finals.

Of course, being David, he will fight to the last to be fit for selection. But, with the provisional 28-man England squad set to be announced on May 16, and the final 23 to be revealed on June 1, all the positive thinking in the world is unlikely to get him on the plane. There's just not enough healing time, and too great a risk for Capello to include him half-fit and hopeful.

So, his international career will likely end, aged 35 in May, with 115 caps that in no way tell the story of what David Beckham meant to the England football team. In his heyday, the man was immense, and even in decline he still had something intangible to offer. So Becks, you will be missed.

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soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. brent skelton

    If anyone can come back form this injury, he can. Hope he can still continue to play. He is no doubt the best ball passer in the game, and his penality shots are magical. Told my son if Beck is out that it is now time for him to step up and train to be the next Beckham. Good luck DB get well soon.

    March 15, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Reply
  2. Harley Roy

    Thanks mate for all the years of sound support for the England Team. Get well as soon as you can and I,m sure that "Madam" will ensure that you continue to earn plenty of monies!!! Oh by the way, if you ever want a decent meal you're always welcome at our place.

    March 15, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Reply
  3. oel

    it has been known that human body can only go to certaing stress and this man was about to know the signs of aging,years just do not go by even though you are fitted physically.there are not such thing as a superman,it is only a leyend.
    you want to know another one tha is due one of the best boxers actually in all divisions the PAC-MAN once he loses one will be history

    March 15, 2010 at 9:10 pm | Reply
  4. granbo

    Strange his aura never helped England progress further than the last eight in any of the five major tournaments spanning 12 years he played in. His sending off in the 1998 World Cup didn't help that year, neither did his penalty miss against France and his penalty miss in the shoot out against Portugal in Euro 2004. He captained England in 2006 and returned in tears resigning captaincy after the tournament which by his own admission was a poor performance. I do fear his celebrity status has always outshone his football ability and the 'one trade mark' goal he scored was never repeated, hardly 'trademark' . Posh spice said she wanted to make the Beckham trademark more famous than Persil, congratulation to her, she has.

    March 15, 2010 at 9:24 pm | Reply
  5. Karl Lusbec

    Great article Terry,
    I think it's a pity David is not going to make it to South Africa. Besides his football skills (which are undeniable), he is a positive character within the 3 lions, and as you said there is a positive aura about him.
    I don't know if there is a slight chance for him to recover on time and be 100%, but it's a shame that such a great football player ends his career like this.....

    March 15, 2010 at 9:32 pm | Reply
  6. Chris

    I suffered a complete rupture of my right Achilles in 1991 when I was 35 years old. Granted, I was not a world class athlete but I could hold my own on the basketball court, played a mean game of racquetball and played in fast pitch softball leagues. I can say from experience that this is a very devastating injury. The recovery is very slow with a lot of PT involved. It actually took years before I can honestly say that I felt comfortable even wearing shoes again. It took a long, long time just to be able to walk normally again, probably about 2-3 years. Running is out of the question as my foot just doesn't work that way anymore. Anyone who can come back and play competitive sports again, especially at the professional level in my opinion is super human. Good luck to David

    March 16, 2010 at 12:32 am | Reply
  7. oriaku

    I respect David Beckham, he is still capable of making a strong contribution for the England team. But with this injury, i plead with him to cool down and take his time to recover. let him give the young players chance to showcase themselves beacuse him (DB) has achieved all that is necessary in football career so let him honourably bow out.

    Beck i love you.

    March 16, 2010 at 9:38 am | Reply
  8. Saood

    He is inspirational on the field b'c of his work ethic, i think he should move to Italy permanently and continue to play there b'c the US just doesnt understand his value. I hope he can someone make the English WC squad b'c he will be great moral support for the team if nothing else.

    March 16, 2010 at 11:45 am | Reply
  9. Bob Ducker

    ... It is now! Unfortunately I think it is 'all over now' for David Beckham's international career, and pretty soon for his playing career as a whole. Beckham was, and still is, a great player and your article sums that up well, but this injury ends his World Cup hopes. He was playing for Milan to try and keep those hopes alive – so no World Cup, no point in Milan. That just leaves Galaxy, but apart from the money is he really committed there? The evidence indicates that he isn't. The US might hold him for another year – IF his injury mends and stays mended! So what happens when he hangs up his boots? He's rich and famous, but other soccer avenues for him are limited – let's face it, he's not a great talker is he? He's unlikely to follow Lineker into TV. He doesn't seem interested in management, so what comes next? Advertisements? Roving Ambassador for football? Or will he fade into the background and get involved in UEFA? Or developing the junior game in England (we could sure use someone to tackle that mess)? What ever he does, good luck to him. It's been a pleasure watching him, and I hope he does make a come back.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Reply
  10. alumette

    Hope he made some good investments. His money machine may just have run out. Better tell the flamboyant wife to watch her spending.

    March 16, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Reply
  11. Bill

    I am going through an Achilles rupture as I type. Sustained it about a month ago and starting PT this week. First hand speaking, he has a long way to go. The hardest part will be the pycological part, everybody on the football field heard mine snap. It will always weigh in my mind and I'm sure his as it is truly a level of pain you will never forget. God Speed to his recovery.

    March 16, 2010 at 10:57 pm | Reply
  12. frank

    Beckham is still one of the best play makers even today. Why he wasn't put into the game the other day much earlier I am at a loss.

    He is far from out of it and still one of the most valuable players on the pitch in my opinion.

    March 16, 2010 at 11:02 pm | Reply
  13. The Saint

    Good luck Beckham, you have always proven people wrong. You will do it again.

    Granbo you don't know what you're talking about. "Celebrity status has outshone football ability." I guess you missed all those free kicks, best passes, Champions League title, Premiership titles, FA Cup. Record caps for England and they were hopeless without him when McLaren took over. did you forget those terrible England performances?????

    Oh and you might want to look up the goal against Greece on the last kick of the match. This stuff made him a celebrity, after people like you had ruled him out after every downfall. He made himself a celebrity through football (not talk).

    March 17, 2010 at 1:05 am | Reply
  14. Ed

    Hope this guy will be able to pull through coz these are some big names that should grace the world cup in SA. Its not good for the team to lose such a great player. Was hoping to shake his hand when i travel for the games down the Limpopo from Zimbabwe. Good luck BECKS

    March 17, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Reply
  15. Patrick Moyna

    So what? What did England achieve thanks to his presence in the team over the years? If yo think he is the best GB has to offer, you can forget international cups for the next 5 generations.

    March 18, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Reply
  16. Alan

    he can still play for sure. look at Giggs and Scholes, people want them play and represent. They became the idols for teams and even their home country. I felt terribly bad for beckham as for everyone else. but hey things happen, if you can cope with it; you're the winner. Let's keep our fingers crossed see if he could get a full recovery for another season. seriously there's more than just beckham in the England national team. They can still play well with other players. May you get well soon Dave :) cheers.

    March 18, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Reply
  17. steve

    Its not all doom and gloom. I expect him to be back to his best this time next year. He has a lot of things in his favour that probably some of the above posters didnt have. The best medical treatment and rehabilitation for a start. Also the fact he doesnt rely so much on explosive speed and agility in his game. He relies more on technique and finesse. Ok Donovan Bailey was never as fast again after his 98 rupture but then again he was the fastest in the world at the time and he did actually get back to competition and was still very fast. So its all relative. Another example is Chris Walker. An Australian Rugby League player. He ruptured the same achillies twice in 5 months in 2008. He is a back and relies on his blistering speed. Now he plays for Catalan Dragon in English Super League and has scored 6 tries in 6 games. Like I said its not all gloom and doom. No reason why Becks cant play at the top level again. Here is a photo of Chris Walker.

    March 19, 2010 at 12:42 am | Reply
  18. Bil Bahooka

    Ask any Brit and they will tell you he was washed up before the LA Galaxy paid him all of that $$$ a few years back – good riddance.

    March 20, 2010 at 2:29 am | Reply
  19. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    Becks will be back. He is a great guy and will not leave his admirers for too long. Let's wish him all the very best and a quick return to his midfield duties.

    March 20, 2010 at 11:02 am | Reply
  20. g clarke

    Bil Bahooka...you are talking rubbish.
    Beckham has massive support in UK...How many Brits have you actually talked to...NOT THAT I CARE ABOUT YOUR OPINION IN THE SLIGHTEST!!!!!!

    March 22, 2010 at 1:22 am | Reply
  21. Bob

    Are you telling me that britain does not have someone else that can step into this position who is equally as good as this pampered poodle? Very sad reflection on English football depth I say!

    March 23, 2010 at 8:27 am | Reply
  22. Benji Emy

    Bye Beckham.

    March 23, 2010 at 11:43 am | Reply
  23. Eric

    In my opinion...Beckham was and as long as he plays, will be, a certainty in the English team, but of course, no manager from any team is ever gonna say that, it will look bad on him saying such things, but we all know that Capello knows he needs a leader like Beckham to be in his team for the World Cup, no other player can bring to the table what David can, he has a touch like no other, he brings confidence and security in other players with his leaderism and experience, and not only that, I think he's a key player for any last minute free kicks and penalty shots. Its such a shame he wont be playing in the world cup because of what the English team will lack of w/out him and what the rest of the world wont see him do.

    March 23, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Reply
  24. LAC

    An Achilles injury is devestating, but does not have to be career ending. Mine put me on crutches for 3 months, walking with a boot for 1-2 more and then a slow process of recovery and PT that had me back to 90% within a year. My right calf is smaller than the other and I can't lift (raising my heal) very high using my right leg, but I am just as competive now as I would have been at my age (41) had I avoided the injury. The injury can be attributed to age, not being bothered to stretch and, sometimes, simply bad luck. Becks can return and play well if he is up for the PT. My money is on his successful return - at least to the U.S. Good luck and fast recovery to him.

    March 24, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Reply
  25. Marc

    There will always be people who like and dislike Becks, but what nobody can deny is how much he has given to football. It's a shame to see him miss the World Cup through injury, no footballer wants to go out through injury. Hard luck Becks...

    March 24, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Reply
  26. Luis

    Let's go Beckham you are better then Messi and you after to show it and make him go down. So you after to get well and play your game like to do.

    March 24, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Reply
  27. jorgen friis

    we've seen the best but probably not the last of David Beckham. As have mentioned before all the knocks and injuries sustained over a long playing career are taking their toll. The last achilles problem is a huge blow and may very well spell the end of a top level playing career, Beckham is now aged in his mid 30s and its doubtful theres much left in the tank. It would be a travesty to see him attempting to play top level soccer when his body and soul have long given up akin to a punchdrunk boxer trying to get back in the ring when everybody but he can see the writing on the wall.The best time to leave is when the party is at its best and you will be remembered for all the good things. If you overstay people will remember that.

    March 25, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Reply
  28. Jeff B

    mark my words, becks will reinvent himself again, as he did when he first showed up in milan and he will have a farewall tour at manchester united and he will prove why he is considered one of the best passers in the game

    March 25, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Reply
  29. Jonny

    He will come back. His celebrity status alone guarantees that some club will take him back. On top of that he is a good player who dominates the game not only by the goals he scores but by lifting everybody's spirits and morale. My one concern is that he is starting to get old and I would love to see him finish with a bang, maybe a world cup title. He deserves that much for the great moments he brought to the game!

    March 27, 2010 at 1:08 am | Reply
  30. Matt Jung

    As a former pro athlete who blew my achilles at age 35, I can tell you: he is finished. Godspeed Sir David.

    March 29, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Reply
  31. Donny

    I am not the a big football (soccer) fan. However, I always enjoyed watching international events, such as the World Cup. Which again, I am looking forward to South Africa. I sure hope Becks will be healthy and in shape one last time for the World Cup. Despite what others think of him, he did a lot for the game globally.

    April 3, 2010 at 6:57 am | Reply
  32. James Robinson

    Becks was made a pariah after the foul on the Argentinian and was sent off a few years back.He was hated,then cane those infamous Euro qualifiers and Greece!What an amazing feat ,an incredible free kick and if I remember in injury time!So our famous Becks changed England,s fortune in a few seconds and with it his reputation was transformed.He became a living God and loved by the Nation,WE HAD QUALIFIED!
    The nation says sorry Becks ,you are the greatest crosser of the ball the world has ever seen and YOU WILL be in S Africa,I know that ,TO PLAY.Becks we love you!

    April 13, 2010 at 1:44 am | Reply
  33. Jason

    I believe time is up for Becks. England also need to blood new players like Aaron Lennon and Theo Walcott. These are the stars of the future.
    Becks has had a marvellous run in his career so far, both domestically and internationally. His skills, knowledge, leadership and professional ethic has been recognised globally. He is a star off the field and no one can expect too much more of him.

    April 15, 2010 at 9:34 am | Reply
  34. Charlie

    Beckham was good a few years ago, but no England has new talents such as Wayne Rooney. I think there are plenty of replacements available who will actually do a better job

    April 15, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Reply
  35. tinica

    What is it now, 44 years of hurt?

    April 18, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Reply
  36. Musediq

    Beck,u're great hero keep urself cool and enjoy ur lifetime,,, great focus

    April 27, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Reply

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