October 15th, 2009
05:41 PM ET

Maradona and Beckham show their worth

With the line-up for the World Cup nearly complete, the discussion has begun among fans and media in the qualified nations as to who should go to the finals and who should miss out.

David Beckham still has a major role to play in England's bid to win the 2010 World Cup.
David Beckham still has a major role to play in England's bid to win the 2010 World Cup.

Top of that debating list are two superstars whose careers have transcended the game itself - Diego Maradona and David Beckham.

Let’s discuss Diego first. Should he lead Argentina in 2010 as manager, or will his lack of tactical nous be a liability to the Albicelestes in South Africa? Well, in my view, the answers are yes and yes.

When you hire Diego Maradona as manager, you get a football genius with a maverick personality who will do things his way or not at all.

No matter that he’s got no coaching pedigree or credentials, the Argentine Football Association decided that the risk was worth taking, so he got the job.

What followed in the qualifiers was what you’d expect from Diego, a rollercoaster ride that ultimately ended in success, as befits a rebel who consistently comes up smelling of roses.

You see, that’s the thing with Maradona, nothing he’s ever done has been conventional, yet he’s still among the most decorated and revered figures in football.

Look at the way he was as a player. A consummate ball hog who won games and titles, including the 1986 World Cup, virtually on his own!

Nobody would or could coach someone to play like that, because next to nobody would have the talent to make it work. Yet Diego did.

His self-confidence has taken him far. Add to that his passion and god-like charisma, and you can see why the Argentine FA is happy to take a punt despite the obvious risks of failure.

World Cups are not always won by the best team, but by the team with most flair, and Diego’s death-or-glory methods might at least give Argentina a shot.

While you expect the unexpected with Maradona, the reverse is true of David Beckham.

Here is Becks in a nutshell: a world-class crosser of the ball and dead-ball genius; a team player willing to play a defined role to orders; a patriotic whole-hearted competitor; a thoroughbred who’s now a bit of a carthorse; and a talismanic figure whose mere presence in the squad can inspire others to perform.

And, for me, the latter is the crux of the matter, and the main reason why Fabio Capello should put him on the plane to South Africa.

The World Cup is a long haul, and when a team needs lifting before, during or after a game, a seasoned veteran like 34-year-old Beckham can be invaluable.

That’s why Marcelo Lippi is considering 34-year-old Francesco Totti’s offer to return to international football for Italy’s World Cup challenge, why Lothar Matthaus played for Germany in 1998 aged 37, why Roger Milla played for Cameroon in 1990 and ’94 aged 38 and 42 respectively, and why Maradona himself was in the Argentine squad in ’94 aged 33, despite questionable fitness.

You take 23 players to a World Cup, so you can afford the luxury of a secret or not-so-secret weapon. And I believe Beckham should be England’s.

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. oyeyemi samson

    those dat say maradona will not gualify let them eat their words and 4 beckham is an idol.

    October 17, 2009 at 10:00 am | Reply
  2. jc

    maradona will not be manager when the world cup starts and beckham will only be on the bench but all i care about is that my country ireland will reach the world cup.if we do reach the world cup just to warn everyone we play really boring football

    October 17, 2009 at 11:52 am | Reply
  3. peter

    go deigo go

    October 17, 2009 at 1:50 pm | Reply
  4. Sharma

    I agree with you Terry about Beckham. One can argue that he is not the same player when he was playing for Man U. but still when he comes to the field, there is a different aura around him and even though I don't expect him to score goals but I think he can bring the whole team together and if England have any chance of even reaching the Semi's Beckham should be in the squad. In case of Maradona, no comment because I have always believed Pele is way better than Maradona and Maradona is definitely one of the worst managers.

    October 17, 2009 at 6:12 pm | Reply
  5. boudius

    Argentina is probably going to win the world cup..just think of brasil in 2002. as for beckham, he should be the cornerstone of any english team who goes to south africa. other than the fact that he could be an inspirational figure, fact of the matter is that he has been nothing but dependable over the stretch of england's qualifying games and has showed unrivaled passion

    October 18, 2009 at 12:57 pm | Reply
  6. ekennna_germany

    viva maradona for ever my hero

    October 18, 2009 at 4:24 pm | Reply
  7. Kealeboga

    Capello cannot make a credible argument as to why Beckham should not be at the world cup because quiet frankly the English side sucks without him.. He is also an inspirational figure and there are times at the world cup when fitness, technique, tactics and planning give way to sheer commitment, guts, inspiration and adrenaline and then is when England will need Beckham......

    October 19, 2009 at 7:26 am | Reply
  8. zijjan_uganda

    Let Capello and the world know that the world cup isn't only about what happens on the field but the whole atmosphere needs to be electric including the stands. which footballing fun wouldn't want to have Beckham and Maradonna participating?
    The later may not have what it takes to bring the cup to Rio De Janeiro but the wC isn't just about that either. we want to enjoy the historic event on african turf and we want all those greats to be here. Viva maradonna, go go goooo Becks.

    October 23, 2009 at 5:28 am | Reply
  9. baker hill

    England might as well stay at home without Beck....ditto for Argentina sin Marodonna..it really is that simple

    October 25, 2009 at 3:50 pm | Reply
  10. Akenji Tulis

    The is no one like Maradonna and there will never be someone like him! Maradonna rocks. As for Beckham i think he has to first consider what he wants in life – being a "Hollywood pop star" or a "soccer player". England should also think clearly if there is anyone more inspirational than Becks! Becks and Maradonna looking forward to meeting you guys in South Africa come 2010.

    October 29, 2009 at 10:51 am | Reply
  11. udala

    maradona excites in any football engagement, but beckam's hoopla and hype bursted years ago. football is palyed with skill and feet not tabloids and tv. English FA made their bed, let them lie on it. please i emplore Terry Badoo and other commentators to discard apperances for real facts. Real madrid is still in turmoil since enrollling beckam at the expence of Makalele. LA Galaxy ML knew nothing of it until later as fans demystified their expensive purchase .
    Peace to all mankind.

    October 30, 2009 at 11:26 am | Reply
  12. Nochman

    Terry, you have forgotten that Beckham also brings an intelligent passing game to help England hold on to the ball and create chances. Without Beckham, we will constantly see Gerard and the others continue to waste balls playing long with almost every touch they get.
    Remember Spain vs England last year (2-0): Best player on the pitch – David Beckham, even though he played maybe 20 minutes

    November 5, 2009 at 2:21 pm | Reply
  13. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    Nice blog by Terry Baddoo. The finals of the World Cup in South Africa are indeed celebration of the gift of life. Charismatic Diego Maradona and skillful play maker David Beckham are vital to make the celebration party complete. Fans love to watch Maradona even on the side lines. David Beckham adds solemnity to the on field proceedings.

    November 6, 2009 at 3:59 pm | Reply
  14. Paul Kpatindé

    In my opinion the current English team without Beckham appears to lack some efficiency though they won their qualifications matches hands down. I have some misgivings in that all those younger players lack something that Beckham definitely have, I mean Experience at the world stage. It is true that most of the English players are from top clubs in the world but this is not enough for World Cup competition and they need one like Beckham who can impact on the opponent team as the Brazilian Dunga or Cafu.

    November 9, 2009 at 10:58 am | Reply
  15. Billa

    Maradona and Beckham both belong in a museum or as cheerleaderds for their respective countries. Viva Messi!

    November 10, 2009 at 5:13 am | Reply
  16. lola

    kudos to both players they are hero of our time.with the presence of both the two heros and host of others seen in our beloved Africa soil will make the ceremony more delight

    November 16, 2009 at 5:37 am | Reply
  17. Gideon Ogbadu Okai

    watch out for Beckham

    November 18, 2009 at 10:18 am | Reply
  18. pierre

    The World Cup is a world show, and you need stars to have a successful show. Maradona, Beckman, Totti, even Platini for France, Beckenbauer for Germany, and Zico for Brazil should all be present.

    November 19, 2009 at 3:17 pm | Reply
  19. Mohamed Libya

    Beckham will definatly make a diffrence with his team,out of the pitch and on it.
    during training his presence will make a positive diffrence with his team mates,being around Beck's surely means a great atmosphere,and thats very important for a team.
    on the pitch ,u always need some like Beck's on yr bench for the last 20 or 25 minutes,specialy if yr in a draw or 1 goal behind.

    Diego is a great figure,should be the god father of fans in south africa ,just like he was in germany 2006.
    im sure for the players and supporters having Maradona on their side electrifying the crowds is better for them than having him coach.
    my point of view

    November 24, 2009 at 11:29 am | Reply
  20. Oluwafemi

    Remember that when talking about great men in the world of football,Okocha of Nigeria could not be left out

    November 30, 2009 at 6:24 am | Reply
  21. hir

    i like both of them, but maradona is different. the man a make different decision for argentina. u see messi..like maradona. beckham also not less. i very respect of this player. but not for england squad.

    December 8, 2009 at 7:13 am | Reply
  22. Abbey

    Capello would have contributed to world peace in no small way by ensuring Beckham is in teh English squad – and besides, he plays excellent soccer, and we'd have got ourselves a bright coach of the century if Maradona can take Argentina beyond the Quarter finals.

    December 8, 2009 at 3:32 pm | Reply
  23. Billa

    Maradona, the Greatest! Di Stefano Super great!
    Beckham nowhere near – nice fellow his image can sell anything. But not in the same league as the two above. No way!

    December 11, 2009 at 3:12 am | Reply
  24. Billa

    Beckham nice fellow, but lets see what he can do playing for his country. Is his last chance to come near Maradona, who will be the greatest Succesor to DiStefano? Messi!

    December 11, 2009 at 3:17 am | Reply
  25. Kealeboga

    I still maintain Beckham has a lot to offer the English squad.. while the young guns the like of Wright-Phillips Lennon and others are good players, they lack the mental toughness and the sheer ability to inspire that Becks has in abundance

    December 11, 2009 at 12:57 pm | Reply
  26. Billa

    The World Cup will settle the Beckham vs. Messi matter in todays Fotball world. It is a matter of the old football powers, i.e. Brazil, England, Argentina, Spain, Italy and France vs. the emerging Turkey and African football nations. Thye are all great!

    December 11, 2009 at 5:09 pm | Reply
  27. ossing london

    taking beckham to the world cup , i think is just a way to add his caps , cos footballistically his gone. Maradona remains best, second by zidane zizou.

    December 17, 2009 at 10:06 pm | Reply
  28. Billa

    Maradona and Messi! A legend and a legend in the making. It looks to me that the English UEFA teams are going after him in a violent and despicable way. No Mas please.

    December 18, 2009 at 8:55 pm | Reply
  29. samuel uge

    football is about fashion and beckham and maradona are no exception both are very desirable footballers on planet. they both need to be on the african soil inspire the upcoming stars on the football pitch

    January 6, 2010 at 1:13 am | Reply

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