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Beckham injury will bring mixed emotion

16 Mar 2010(Tue)

March 15, 2010: When David Beckham pulled up lame while playing for Milan on Sunday, the groans and sighs could be heard around the football world.

It looked serious from the outset, especially as there was no one near him – and the sight of him in agony on a stretcher told its own story; that his World Cup was over before it had even started.

Many Beckham fans – including myself – feel sorry for him, that his international career has ended this way without joining his country in South Africa. That is, of course, presuming there is no amazing recovery and unlikely comeback.

But while many Beckham admirers will miss him wearing the Three Lions, there will be many others delighted that he is no longer in the running for a place in the World Cup squad – and I am talking about the English media here.

Yes, I am not joking, Japanese readers, as I know this concept is alien to you, who worship your stars and stand by them through thick and thin. I attended four England games at the 2006 World Cup in Germany and was amazed by the anti-Beckham comments of some of the English press. They did not try to hide their loathing and contempt for Beckham, arguing that basically he was an impostor in the England squad and did not deserve to be on the same field as his teammates.

On one occasion a couple of English newspaper reporters almost came to blows as one attacked Beckham and the other defended him, so I dread to think what it would have been like four years on with Beckham in the squad in South Africa. That is not going to happen now, though, and in some ways this will come as a relief as the media can actually concentrate on the football rather than the Beckham circus, although I am sure they will find lots more frivolity to divert their attention.

For me, however, Beckham will remain a giant for all he has done for club and country. I was at Saint-Etienne in 1998 when he was sent off against Argentina – silly and petulant, agreed, but I support Gary Lineker’s opinion that it was never a red card offence – and I was at Sapporo Dome when he fired in the penalty to beat Argentina four years later.

There will be some now laughing at Beckham’s plight, celebrating his downfall and saying he deserved what he got, but it shows how out of touch the media can be with public opinion, judging by the reaction at Old Trafford when he returned with Milan last week, and of the club officials following his injury on Sunday.

Must admit, though, that I am not a big fan of his tattoos...


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